The Long Way Home – Rachel Spangler

The Long Way HomeRory St James runs away from home when her parents react badly to her coming out. Fleeing to Chicago she creates a whole new persona for herself, Raine, who builds a life and a career out of the bitter anger and hurt. But 10 years on the world is bored of a 27 year old who is still angry with her parents. On the brink of being evicted and without an income, she is forced to take a job at Bramble College in Darlington, the town she has ranted against and vilified for her rejection.

Beth Devoroux is the archetypal small town girl, the plain farmers daughter who has grown into a beautiful curvaceous woman. She seems content with her small town life as librarian at the college, darling of the town and a solid but extremely closeted relationship.

Despite their shared teenage years they seem to have nothing in common, yet Beth is clearly drawn to the angry rebel Rory became. Can she reach out to her high school buddy or will their different experiences of small town life prove too big a barrier?


Most of us grow up with a sense of fear at some level. Whether it is of being rejected by our parents, being bullied at school or threatened on the street. Being ’other’ as a kid is always a challenge even without rejection by our parents.

Rory and Beth have reacted in different ways to that fear. Rory has run off, become a radical gay activist and turned her fear into anger so strong it has sustained her for 10 years. Beth has hidden who she is for fear of offending those who have loved and supported her, and that has been reinforced by an 8 year relationship with a woman who is homophobic in her self loathing and paranoia about being gay.

What this story brings us is extremes; Rory and Beth are opposite ends of the scale, yet they come from the same place, have similar childhoods and families. What Ms Spangler explores is how our different perceptions of ourselves and those around us forge the people we become. Rory saw everyone as hostile, so she reacted with anger. Beth saw everyone as supportive – of a perfect image – so has tried to maintain their perception.

The characters are well drawn and thought out. They have an internal integrity that holds throughout their struggles to recognize what life has done to them, who they have become and the compromises and price they have paid. Both fluctuate quite wildly at times, one minute clinging to the safety of façade they have built, the next tearing it down. The internal battles they both fight are what makes their growth honest and realistic.

The supporting players from the midwestern town form a backdrop which is interesting. We have the stereotypical bigots, the born again town bitch, but also a couple of guys who knew Rory was gay and just accept it, but never dreamt Beth could also be that way. They are caring and supportive, but still stereotypical in their reactions to the tomboi and the femme.

In the midst of all this social comment is a charming romance. Beth, unsure of what is happening in her heart, still fights to draw Rory from Raine and ultimately has the courage to face her own demons as the “perfect” darling of the town. Rory knows from the start how much she is attracted to Beth, but rejects her attraction to the closeted woman and fights tooth and nail to hold onto her brittle persona.

Rachel Spangler bioComing home isn’t about a place, it’s about finding ourselves, growing out of the personas we create to shield our fears and into the power of being true to who we are.

Brilliantly written, well constructed and an emotional page-turner, this is a book which will speak to all GLBT people.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2010
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004HW6AR4
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To buy the Paperback – click here.

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