29 Nov 2012

Book Review - Oranges are Not the Only Fruit

I mentioned in a post a while back that me and my friend set up a queer book club at my university, and after a successful second meeting I wanted to review the book we read for my blog. Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson is a really interesting novel, queer or not, literature student or not, it brings up many ideas about dealing with family and dealing with being different. The book is semi-autobiographical and follows the main character Jeanette's discovery that she is gay and how this conflicts with her Northern and deeply religious Evangelist community. I really enjoyed the depiction of Jeanette's social interactions, sometimes unbelievably mature for a small child, but sometimes completely unaware of the social stigmas initially about her church, and later about her sexuality. I think this has resonance with many people, who have an understanding of the world and of their own maturation, but come across mental barriers that only time and experience will be able to give. This book was not completely to my taste though, I found the use of 'literary devices' a bit overwhelming, this being one of the author's earlier novels she seems to want to experiment, and sometimes it looks a bit obvious that she's trying to be edgy and it falls flat. If you're thinking of picking up this book I would also draw attention to the emotional and physical abuse of Jeanette by her mother and members of the church, this is certainly not a happy book, or even a hopeful one, but it is a good book.
Oranges are Not the Only Fruit won't go on my favourites list, but I am intrigued enough to read Why Be Normal When You Can Be Happy? Jeanette Winterson's autobiography, and would recommend the read for its well executed portrayal of coming to grips with sexuality and growing up. 
Have you read Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, or can recommend some queer literature for our next book club?

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