Plot: Stookey's novel is well plotted. There are few surprises; however, the subject matter and historical time period will keep the reader engaged throughout the novel.
Prose/Style: Readers will find “Acquaintance” well crafted and a beautiful read. This book is an honest portrayal of love and secrecy in a time period where anyone who was different might be in danger.
Originality: Stookey's novel distinguishes itself with a heartbreaking look into forbidden love and fear in 1920's Oregon.
Character Development: The author does a remarkable job creating Carl Holman and Jimmy Harper. The characters are exquisite, yet flawed, and altogether memorable. Both Carl and Jimmy grow tremendously throughout the novel.
Date Submitted: June 18, 2019
I picked this up on a whim from the author himself, at a local book festival they had downtown (Hi ~ Yeah, that crazy lady). I was first intrigued by the cover. It looked interesting, and it looked oldie, vintage, and I took a look at the back. The time period intrigued me, and the prospect of a love story from an angle that isn't heterosexual is a nice change of pace. And, of course, I live in the Portland area.
But I think the thing that made me come back and buy the book, after I walked away the first time, was the bit he said to me about how he wrote this book with current events in mind. Things that have been taking place in our "civilized" century that mirror things that we've already fought against. Racism. Sexism. All manner of prejudices that are coming out more and more because of things like social media.
And I can see it in the story. I've only read this first book, but I can already see it, and I think it's something everyone should read.
(Also, like, c'mon... Carl and Jimmy are friggin' adorable!)
"Reading Acquaintance is like discovering the journal of a long-lost relative. This well-researched novel gives the reader a believable and realistic picture of gay and lesbian life in Portland in the 1920s. Filled with period detail, Carl's fictional memoir is a love story I devoutly wish were true.”
—Linda Anne Hoag, Marriage and Family Therapist
“Fiction makes the reality of the 1920s far more vivid than a historical text ever could. Eugenicists in Oregon were calling for sterilization of 'perverts' along with other undesirables, and the Ku Klux Klan had infiltrated every level of the community, secretly ready to strike against anything that didn’t seem 100% normal and American. It wasn’t an auspicious time for two young Portland men to fall in love with each other.”
—Robin Will, President of the Gay & Lesbian Archive of the Pacific Northwest