cover image Cast Me Gently

Cast Me Gently

Caren J. Werlinger. Ylva (Ingram, dist.), $14.99 trade paper (353p) ISBN 978-3-95533-391-1

Werlinger (Turning for Home) sets this graceful and touching portrayal of first love, and its effect on family and friendship, against a backdrop of 1980s Pittsburgh, Pa. Pharmacist Teresa Benedetto works for her large Italian-American family’s chain of drugstores and feels stifled by their expectations. Bank teller Ellie Ryan is also restless, needing more to her life than work and the search for her homeless veteran brother. The attraction between Teresa and Ellie is immediate, but as their relationship grows, so do the choices that each of them must make: do they stay in lives that are familiar, or do they take the next step into independence and interdependence? The difficulty of each woman’s decisions is never underestimated, providing portraits that are complex and realistic, and Werlinger avoids soap opera neatness, instead depicting nuanced and multifaceted relationships and events. While there’s enough detail to place the story firmly in its time and place, the social issues that Werlinger portrays—homelessness, sexism, and Christian attitudes toward queerness—are both timeless and timely. (Oct.)