Reviewed by Becca
TITLE: Speak Its Name
AUTHOR: Kathleen Jowitt
LENGTH: 278 pages
RELEASE DATE: February 2, 2016
A new year at the University of Stancester, and Lydia Hawkins is trying to balance the demands of her studies with her responsibilities as an officer for the Christian Fellowship. Her mission: to make sure all the Christians in her hall stay on the straight and narrow, and to convert the remaining residents if possible. To pass her second year. And to ensure a certain secret stays very secret indeed.
When she encounters the eccentric, ecumenical student household at 27 Alma Road, Lydia is forced to expand her assumptions about who’s a Christian to include radical Quaker activist Becky, bells-and-smells bus-spotter Peter, and out (bisexual) and proud (Methodist) Colette. As the year unfolds, Lydia discovers that there are more ways to be Christian – and more ways to be herself – than she had ever imagined.
Then a disgruntled member of the Catholic Society starts asking whether the Christian Fellowship is really as Christian as it claims to be, and Lydia finds herself at the centre of a row that will reach far beyond the campus. Speak Its Name explores what happens when faith, love and politics mix and explode.
This book was incredibly personal for me. I almost don’t know where to start. I will begin with the story was well done. It pulled me in and kept me intrigued as to what would happen. The characters were so real it was almost as if she was writing about someone she knew or the book based on a true story. I will admit there were a few moments of a lull when some things were being overly explained such as some of the scriptures, but overall was I felt this tale was very good.
Lydia is trying hard to be a good Christian. Raised in the church and studying the Bible, Lydia has an idea of what a good Christian should be, but it is killing her. She has buried a part of herself and hopes God will just take that part of her away. Until she meets some people who make her question her entire faith upbringing.
This book is an f/f romance, it deals with the struggles of faith and being a Christian and being gay. I am in no way comparing myself to the huge impact of coming out as gay, but I can empathize with the main character feeling out of place while growing up in a “Christian” setting. Like the main character, Lydia, I grew up in a Christian home. My father was a pastor. Also like Lydia, I was in everything as far as activities in church. I empathize where she is coming from because I am one of the only people in my family who is not prejudiced or bigoted against the LGBT community. It makes things very hard when you are raise with certain Doctrine and with your family expecting certain things of you. You wonder whether it is ok to be gay (or even and ally) and be a Christian or whether it’s true what many say that you will go to hell.
As the book goes on, Lydia encounters much to cause her inner turmoil. In the groups she is in, in the friends she has, in life as a whole, she encounters resistance. So she decides to sit down and read the Bible and see if God will speak to her. The one thing she got out of it was this: God loves her no matter what secret she has and no matter what happens in her life or what will happen. She realizes her relationship with God is just that: hers. And hers alone. And while she is ridiculed and hurt for her secret, she holds on to her faith in a loving God. She often feels alone and left out as so many people in her situation do, but she holds on to the fact that God loves us no matter what we do or how we lead our lives. He just wants to be a part of our lives.
I love this book also because even though the book was fictional it reflects real life. So many people today struggle for so many reasons and being told you are bad or disgusting when the opposite is true can be crushing. People are still worthy of love no matter what they do or how they live their lives, as Lydia learned and finally accepted. The people who love you are who matter.
This has a lot of Scripture and political drama that goes along with the Church and religion, but I encourage people to read this book and realize there are those of us who are Christians who are not prejudiced or racist or bigoted and all I or we want is to love and be loved in return. That was my favorite part of the whole book. When Lydia realized what life and love really mean and let the bad go.