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Review of "Emerald City Blues"

By Jean Stewart
Rising Tide Press, 1996
Review by Susan K. Wingate on Jul 12th 2002
Emerald City Blues

            This is a work of fiction separate from the authors previous science fiction Isis series.  Reb and Flynn are runaways on the streets of Seattle, while Chris and Jennifer are new neighbors, starting off on the wrong foot.  Emerald City Blues is a celebration of the healing redemptive power of Love.

The book tells the story of numerous characters that cross all the boundaries of societal norms, educational backgrounds, ages and economical standings. They come together and share some very common core issues faced by anyone that has had to deal with sexual identity, grief and loss issues, runaways/homeless teenagers, and the impact of domestic violence on the innocent.

Jean Stewart touches the very depth of pain and torment a teenager goes through when coming to terms with the truth of his/her sexual identity, in such a way the reader can not help but align themselves with the teenagers in this book and in general.  Couple that issue with the homeless teenage runaways and it is understandable how kids become the true victims of their environment.  And that is only the first chapter of the book.

A love story emerges on two different levels and is woven throughout the book.  One romance born was out of the loss of a loved one and the other one born out the need to survive.   The tenderness and subtle innocence of both relationships play out in a way that leaves the reader impatient in wanting to turn to the next page to find out what happens next.

The third subplot in this book is about the call for action within the Gay and Lesbian community to become advocates for the gay/lesbian youth on the streets and struggling to find their place within the norms of society.  In as much as it was difficult in identifying with the apathy within the storys community, Jeans style of writing demanded the characters to make a stand to mobilize and empower themselves in making a difference, even if it meant in the lives of only one or two street kids.

There are no fairy tale endings in this book. It is truly one of the most realistic depictions of relationships, the pain and desperation a runaway goes through to survive, the nightmare any child experiences when turned away from family/friends, because of their sexual identity and the process of grieving.  It is a story of beginnings.  I would highly recommend this book to all ages. 



© 2002 Susan K. Wingate

Susan Wingate is currently working in personnel management at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She has worked for twelve years as a chemical dependency counselor for adolescents, as well as having worked with survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Her passion is to be a vehicle for creating awareness for self and others.

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