Some Go Hungry

by Christopher Verleger

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday May 17, 2016

I think everyone agrees with Dorothy when she proclaims, "There's no place like home." But that doesn't mean it's always a good thing.

In J. Patrick Redmond's captivating debut novel, "Some Go Hungry," the narrator, Grey Daniels, comes from Fort Sackville, a rural Indiana town heavily influenced by the Bible's teachings and still haunted by the unsolved, decades-old murder of a gay teen.

Years ago, Grey left behind a relationship and his life as an openly gay man in Miami to return home and run his family's restaurant after his father falls ill. The closeted Grey is reunited with his high school classmate and former "friend with benefits," Daryl, who resurfaces in Fort Sackville, with his wife and children in tow, as the town church's youth pastor and choir director.

Neither Grey nor Daryl have any interest in rekindling their friendship, but they share a fondness for a talented local teen, Trace, one of the choirboys who works at the restaurant and dreams of one day singing on Broadway.

Following a sermon where Daryl condemns homosexuality and equates gays with the devil, a fearful, questioning Trace seeks advice from Grey. Of his own volition, Trace comes out to his parents, who immediately ship him off to a conversion camp. After word spreads that Trace confided in Grey, they blame him for "recruiting" the teen, and both his family and restaurant suffer the consequences.

For those of us who live in metropolitan areas and communities accepting of same-sex relationships, Grey's story may seem completely outlandish, especially given the nation's recent advancements with marriage equality. But while the events in this novel are fictitious, they are based on the author's actual experiences, and serve as a grim reminder that such circumstances are still not altogether uncommon.

Trace manages to keep in touch with Grey through letters, but things ultimately take a turn for the worse for them both, which forces Grey to reexamine his life. In turn, his family reconsiders their own future.

Grey is an extremely pleasant, likeable character whom we can all relate to. Even if you've never stepped foot anywhere near a town like Fort Sackville, we all know what it's like to nod politely or pretend not to hear when confronted with bigotry and hatred, so as to not cause any disturbance or put ourselves and those we love in danger.

Nevertheless, Grey's tale is a lesson for us all that only when we consider our own feelings first will we find happiness -- and acceptance.

"Some Go Hungry"
by J. Patrick Redmond
$17.95 Paperback
Akashic Books

Chris is a voracious reader and unapologetic theater geek from Narragansett, Rhode Island.