A Simple Distance
"All this speaking for others had me losing my own voice," states Jean, the conflicted lesbian attorney with mommy issues in A Simple Distance, K. E. Silva's luscious, tropical/San Francisco novel. In less than 200 rich and delicious pages, Silva layers a bold and romantic tale of family betrayal, lust, politics and the ever-poignant quest for a place one can call home.
Cracked like a coconut, Jean is hard and coarse on the outside, wrapped snugly in her thick skin. Though hidden inside, her sweetness and urge for lasting love and social justice push through her rough exterior. A civil-rights lawyer in San Francisco (are there really any other kind of lawyers in San Francisco?), she is obligated to sacrifice her own beliefs in order to defend her client. Her work life bleeds into her personal life as she finds herself holding her tongue in almost every situation - except when it's dancing in the mouth of a spunky female doctor on the homophobic West Indian island where her family's name is currency. Her secretly illicit love affair, when exposed, shakes the palm trees of the island and challenges her conservative, traditional family to cling to their history or confront the present. Jean's relationship to her mother, to her race, to her job and to her lover are thrust to the forefront as she is forced to not only stay afloat, but navigate through the tumultuous waters of her history.
The novel brings to the surface that triplet of issues: race, class and gender though Silva's deeply drawn characters give a unique voice that screams louder than the politics. Though there are a few moments of cliché, in the end Silva doesn't let anyone off the hook so easily. Her sharp yet ravishing language caresses her story and conjures glorious yet flawed characters swimming in contradictions as they splash through love, prejudice, pride and revenge in their journey to find that place called home.