When a group of social activists arrives in a small town, the lives and beliefs of residents and outsiders alike are upended, in this wry, embracing novel.
Big Burr, Kansas, is the kind of place where everyone seems to know everyone, and everyone shares the same values—or keeps their opinions to themselves. But when a national nonprofit labels Big Burr “the most homophobic town in the US” and sends in a task force of queer volunteers as an experiment—they’ll live and work in the community for two years in an attempt to broaden hearts and minds—no one is truly prepared for what will ensue.
Furious at being uprooted from her life in Los Angeles and desperate to fit in at her new high school, Avery fears that it’s only a matter of time before her “gay crusader” mom outs her. Still grieving the death of her son, Linda welcomes the arrivals, who know mercifully little about her past. And for Christine, the newcomers are not only a threat to the comforting rhythms of Big Burr life, but a call to action. As tensions roil the town, cratering relationships and forcing closely guarded secrets into the light, everyone must consider what it really means to belong. Told with warmth and wit, Under the Rainbow is a poignant, hopeful articulation of our complicated humanity that reminds us we are more alike than we’d like to admit.
My thoughts: each chapter is a glimpse into the life of a different resident of Big Burr, from the newcomers trying to change prevailing attitudes to the lifelong residents who want things to either stay the same or who long for change.
This was a really interesting way to tell the story of a small town, everyone has a different perspective on things and some events you only learn about second or third hand, the way you might in real life. On the whole the LGBTQ+ activists are left alone, apart from a few really obnoxious individuals (who kidnaps a cat like that?). Big Burr might have been seen as the most homophobic town but underneath the surface, things are not quite so clear cut.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.