Under the Rainbow by Celia Laskey

When Big Burr, Kansas is voted the Most Homophobic Town in America by a national non-profit, its citizens are outraged. As a social experiment, Acceptance Across America sends a queer task force to live and work in the town for a two-year period. Their hope is that their presence in the community will open minds and change hearts. Only one thing is for sure… neither they nor the town will ever be the same again.

This story is told with so much compassion and dry wit, it’s simply impossible not to fall in love. Each chapter is told from a different POV. This isn’t a format I typically enjoy. Quite often, too many POV’s leads to a convoluted or messy plot. However, in this instance, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It reads like a stream of interlocking short stories, each one more captivating than the last. They are stitched together seamlessly, creating one beautiful piece of fiction. It features a range of characters, from homophobic townsfolk to every kind of queer under the rainbow. I think what makes the story so powerful is Laskey’s approach. She tackles each narrative from a place of empathy. Her characters portray all the complexities, flaws and triumphs of the human condition. This makes for a truly compelling and thought-provoking read. I love it when a piece of writing challenges your belief system. If you’ve ever felt like you live in a society that didn’t want you, this story will resonate on a visceral level. But ultimately, it’s a story for everyone. It’s a compulsory read for anyone looking to expand their understanding of life as a minority or a human. It’s a story about life and love and all the pathos and beauty that entails.

At a time when we need to come together the most, these are exactly the type of stories I shall be seeking out and devouring. It’s the perfect time for reflection and growth. And if we truly want to band together, we can’t simply champion our own causes, we must look after our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. I can’t recommend this book enough. It has all the feels. ALL OF THEM! Every skittle, so if you’d like to taste the rainbow, this one’s for you.

To all my fellow queers and allies in self-isolation, stay safe, stay home & stay calm. We are going to make it through this together. But until we do… may your days be filled with peace, love and good books.

Love, Daniel