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Book Review: Another Life Altogether by Elaine Beale

Another life altogether : a novel

1970’s England. An unstable mentally ill mother and a distant father. Mundane surroundings and a desire to one day escape to London. “Faking it” to be “in with the popular kids. Shunning the unpopular kids even though they’re a lot like you. Figuring out you’re queer. Writing secret (and unsent) love letters to a forbidden crush. Deciphering a way to stand up for yourself– and others. 13 year old Jesse Bennet has a lot to deal with– and Another Life Altogether is a coming of age story that explains how she does.

The story line’s kind of ok (honestly, I found the trajectory of it to be pretty predictable, and the ending unbelievable)– but the writing itself is pretty great. While you’re reading the book and waiting to finally be surprised, there are lots of really great descriptions of Jesse’s surroundings (the clothing!), as well as allusions to key historical moments from the time. Beale does a really realistic job of crafting Jesse’s slow ascent into awareness of her sexuality too. There’s also a solid exposition of how fucked up gender roles can be, that is both maddening and fascinating.

Find it here


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