I feel the need to preface this blog article with a few points, before we begin:
- If you dislike seeing discussion of religious conversion, anti-Semitism, or Stockholm Syndrome, you may not want to read on: but they are concepts I am protesting vociferously.
- I did my research on this as much as I could before writing: any information I have found is linked to the source document (All links open in new windows).
- I belong to neither faith discussed in this article, but am of the very strong opinion that the structure of belief is a very personal preference and the right of every individual.
- I am not out to muckrake, simply to protest and to educate. These are my opinions and I don't expect everyone to agree. Respect mine, I'll respect yours, Golden Rule, Rede, karma, et cetera. I try to play nice.
It does color things slightly once you consider that Breslin is represented by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing, which specializes in "modern-day stories of His supernatural presence and power". Even so, there is a certain level of revulsion that occurs when you think of a romance between a Holocaust prisoner and an SS officer, isn't there? I had a tumbling, unsettled feeling in my stomach before I even got to the detail of the protagonist's religious conversion. Then it doubled.
What makes this worthy of a blog post, you ask? I have had friends point out the value of the 1st Amendment, and they are not incorrect: that this book was published at all is not where my objection lies. If it found itself a little niche market with people who (for some reason I can't fathom) enjoy this sort of fiction, that's fine, they can quietly enjoy it on their own. The problem is, a few weeks ago, the Romance Writers of America announced their finalists for the annual RITA Awards. "For Such a Time" was nominated in 2 categories: Best First Novel, and Inspirational Romance. Remember that tumbling icky stomach feeling? It's ten times worse, at this point. Thankfully, it did not win. A member of RWA wrote in to the board with her feelings on this, which echo my own. You can read it here.
I am not a romance author by any means, but several of my Writing Tribe are, and I have met most of them through my participation in One-Line Wednesday, which readers of this blog are already familiar with. This weekly tradition is sponsored and "mediated" by RWA, which puts out the theme to be followed. The RITA award nomination process is detailed in this forum thread by a user, and expanded on by another. After doing a fair amount of research, I've decided that RWA dodged a serious bullet. I'm going to continue my #1lineWed participation, but if "For Such a Time" had won? You would be reading a much, much different blog post.
"So why write all of this if the end result is that life as usual carries on?", you ask. The answer is this: it made me think about a lot of things. It made me think about what lines authors walk when using sensitive material for inspiration, and what can happen when they're crossed. It made me think about free speech, and about how an author should be careful where they place their associations, and how much digging really needs to be done to get to the heart of an issue. At the start of this post, I didn't even know most of the things I've linked. I'm smarter, if a little sadder, but not as sad as I could have been. You take your silver linings where you can...
As for the initial post which brought this book to my attention, the author, Katherine Locke, has already received messages from white supremacists, criticizing her for her opinions. I asked her permission to link the article, and you can read it here. Also, please give her website some love: she deserves to be known for more than just an angry post about a terrible book.
If you read all the way through this post, I thank you for it, and welcome your comments, either here on the post, on Facebook, or on Twitter. Next week, there will be less incendiary subject matter, I promise.