Claire Bramany is en route to Tulsa, Oklahoma for one reason: to make her partner Jessie Friedman whole again. It is only eight months since Claire lost Jessie to a car crash. Together for over twenty years, Claire is certain that she knows everything that there is about the love of her life. But as she goes through Jessie’s desk drawers, Claire stumbles upon a set of notebooks. It’s not until Claire reads them that she discovers Jessie’s horrific childhood. Certain that she is “the instrument of justice in the world for Jessie,” Claire’s objectives are clear: to search out the man who tainted Jessie’s life, “and to kill him.”
Marilyn Oser’s latest read is an unnerving tale about love, death, and a day of reckoning. A work of love and collaboration, the actual conception for Even You began with Oser’s partner, Mary Lou Kallman, who at the time of her death in 2003 laid the foundation for Jessie’s narrative. It wasn’t until Oser provided a voice for Claire that the elements of the plot finally fell into place. Alternating between the split third and first person narratives respectively, Claire’s portion is set during 1994-95, while Jessie’s goes back fifty years to the time of World War II (WWII).
Oser works her novel much like a tapestry. Tightly interweaving themes of death/life and retribution/redemption, Oser’s descriptions constantly compare the trials and triumphs of two women with various aspects of history. Examples include, WWII, Jim Crow Laws, racism, the Oklahoma bombing, and the Greenwood riots in Tulsato name a few. Amid the comparisons, Jessie’s childhood accounts slowly unfold while Claire’s narrative follows a different format. Oser opens with a scene set in the futureClaire making her way to Oklahomabefore delving into a slew of flashbacks (how Claire meets Jessie and developments in their relationship) and more recent backstories (conversations during Claire’s bereavement support group sessions and her kleptomaniac moments). Both narratives are replete with unexpected twists and turns that slowly build up to the story’s climax.
A wonderful addition to LGBTQ collections, Even You is a profound work of literature. Indeed, a gripping read from beginning to end.
Mill City Press