Review: Living with the Gray Tones

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Living with the Gray Tones
by Darla Ferrara

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Living with the Gray Tones / B003CV7SCM

Charlene Gardner has spent her entire adult life running from the memory of her Nebraskan hometown. After her older brother died, her life seemed drained of color, and the rest of her childhood was bleak and gray. Now she's come home searching for her past, or at least to dispel the gray shadows that surround her, but she's not completely certain what it is she needs.

This excerpt captures nicely the strong ennui and uncertainty that can set in at late life, particularly when there are unsolved issues to be faced and resolved. Charlene, as a narrator, is sympathetic and realistically disorganized in the face of all her childhood demons. The interlude with the serial killer is nicely done, and works well to hook the reader with the dark undertones of his psychotic delusions.

If I have any reservations about this piece, it is with the character of Darrell - or, more specifically, with how he is described. I'm a little confused by this piece and his relationship with Charlene - I couldn't tell if he was a distant friend, a close friend, or a married partner for convenience (on both sides). I'm also confused by his frequently-mentioned sexual orientation issues - Charlene implies that he is homosexual, but Darrell mentions that he is gender-confused and does not necessarily identify as male. These two things are not mutually exclusive, but the one does not necessarily follow the other, either - not all transgender men are gay and few gay men are also transgender - so, basically, I'm unclear as to Darrell's personality, as well as why he is willing to escort Charlene around her home town. A little more upfront clarification on that might help orient the reader.

Overall, I think this is the start of a nicely dark piece.

NOTE: This review is based on a sample excerpt of this book provided through the ABNA contest.

~ Ana Mardoll

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