Review: Karelia Stetz-Waters – Forgive me if I’ve told you this before

Forgive me if I’ve told you this before
Karelia Stetz-Waters
Triinu attends a boring old highschool, with what you would consider typical bullies and mean principals. BUt it’s more than that – Triinu is gay, and in an exceedingly conservative town, that means that pretty much everyone can get away with targeting her.
The beginning of this novel filled me with a little apprehension. I didn’t love the opening paragraphs, and didn’t immediately connect with the protagonist. A few pages in though, and I was hooked, not wanting to step away from my desk.
I loved that Triinu developed as a character, entirely intertwined through the novel. There were no moments of uncertainty, where I wondered how the text had gotten to this point. This is marketed as a coming-of-age story, and I have to say it is.
The painful self-discovery of Triinu might seem unrealistic to other people, who realised they were gay early. But Triinu doesn’t have that option – she hardly knows what being gay means! She needs to find who she is (which she does, in a round about fashion that I recognised), and then come to terms with it.
It was interesting that the colleges she applied for were out of state. I understood why, but at the same time, it’s the total opposite of what people in Australia do. The demographics of these are interesting – and the fear of rejection that Triinu feels is going to be familiar with other readers.
I am not familiar with Oregon, USA, where this is set. I know nothing of the culture, or its history. It doesn’t matter very much though, because the personal issues Triinu undergoes happen every day around the world. Additionally, the author has set her novel and also filled the reader in on the details they need to know of the (real) world.
I made a very rare exception to my print-novel only rule for reviewing, and I’m glad I did. This little beauty is well worth reading, and is humbling, believable and touching all at the same time. If my review doesn’t convince you to go read it, go read it anyway. It won’t be a waste of your time.

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