Review: Emerald City Blues by Jean Stewart [review by Lori L. Lake]

Emerald City Blues
Jean Stewart
Rising Tide Press
1996, 228 pp, $11.99, ISBN 1883061091
In the autumn of her seventeenth year, Morgan Flynn is studying up a storm with hopes of getting into a good college. She’s from a small town in Washington state and longs to escape the increasingly brutal beatings her father inflicts upon her. But when she is caught making love—with a girl, no less—her father beats her worse than ever before, and she knows she has no choice but to flee. She goes across the Cascade Mountains to Seattle where she inadvertently rescues another street kid, Reb, from the local street gang. The Ghouls have been trying to force Reb to join them, but entry requires a beating which she refuses to take. Reb has been on her own for two years and is quite adept at heisting what she needs. Morgan, nicknamed “Flynn,” latches onto Reb for help in surviving.
Increasingly desperate, especially after Flynn falls ill with pneumonia, the two girls end up crossing paths with Chris Olson, a middle class lesbian mourning the death of her lover. Will Chris be able to help them? And will they allow her if she is willing?
Both the confused newcomer, Flynn, and Reb, the hardened street kid, are compelling characters, as is Chris and her neighbor/love interest, Jennifer. Jean Stewart has done a marvelous job rendering the fear, desperation, and canny strengths of youth who find themselves out on the street. Studies have shown that a significant number of runaways are gay and lesbian teens, and Reb, in particular, fits the profile.
Stewart is the gifted author of four other futuristic adventure/romance books in the “Isis” series, and readers of those novels will find this story very different, but just as compelling. Highly recommended.
Lori L. Lake has been an author, editor, teacher, retreat leader, and creativity coach, and, until a few years ago, a book reviewer as well. She’s written a dozen novels, two short story collections, and edited four anthologies. Her work has won three Goldies, three Rainbow Awards, the Alice B Medal, and the Ann Bannon Award. She lives in Portland, Oregon, and is currently working on her next novel and a nonfiction writing book about creativity. Website: www.LoriLLake.com.