Title: Deliver Us From Evie
Author: M.E. Kerr
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Number of Pages: 192
Deliver Us From Evie is an example of a relatively early YA novel to portray homosexuality is a sympathetic way. I was a little wary going into it (partially because I was afraid it would feel really outdated) and it ended up being way better than I’d expected it to be, although it suffers from one major flaw. The whole thing is narrated by Parr, a young teenager whose older sister Evie is suspected of being a lesbian by the narrowminded families in their small farming town.
Since Evie is presented as being almost the quintessential butch you could be forgiven for being afraid she’s end up nothing but a huge stereotype, but she turned out to be strong, smart, and endearing. She was a character I actually started to care about over the duration of the novel and I thought it kind of sucked that her rather dull brother got to tell her story instead of her. Parr just didn’t have enough personality to justify using him as the narrator.
The whole thing with him getting drunk and betraying his sister and her girlfriend was the one plot point that just didn’t ring true to me. He acted like he wanted to protect her and then suddenly he didn’t. The mom and dad were miserable excuses for parents and the way they treated her when they found out she was gay was honestly heartbreaking. It ended up leaving me wondering why someone as cool as Evie could have such a sorry excuse for a family.
I liked that the book explored the hateful reactions to Evie’s sexuality for a variety of angles, from the way her romance with another girl threatened the family’s business and how her mom thought that her ‘passing’ as straight and putting on a veneer of femininity might protect her from a society her parents feared would tear her to pieces. Her mom just didn’t seem to get that challenging everything her daughter did that made her ‘different’ was in of itself causing a lot of emotional damage.
I thought the characters were mostly believable but the small-town god-fearing locals were naïve to the point of sometimes straining credulity. I don’t think they seemed to be the brightest lights but their understanding of what homosexuality even consisted of seemed less developed than the average second grader. Anyway, this novel is a bit of an oldie and probably quite different than contemporary YA books in the genre but the story is engaging and the takeaway is positive, showing how young people can make it in life despite being rejected and told that what they are is a sin.
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