Crystal’s House of Queers
Skipstone Publishing (2021)
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views (02/2022)
I know some will agree with me and some won’t, but I am one of those firm believers that We, the people should be honored. I believe that all men are created equal, as well as women, by the way. I believe Black lives matter, as well as everyone else’s. And I believe that all people should love whoever they want to love, and that choice isn’t anyone else’s business. I was born in a conservative household, raised by great parents, believe in God, and still love Kiefer Sutherland to this day, and none of that is anyone’s business to judge. I also believe you should never judge a book (literally) by its cover, title, synopsis, etc. Because if you do, you’re guaranteed to miss out on something.
In the very beginning of this poignant book, a quote is offered from one of the characters by the name of Crystal Rose: “We all need to be held and loved. Why do people take issue with
who does the holding?” And after that important thought, the book speeds forward to tell a tale of kindness, anger, judgment, love, abuse, drama and more, by utilizing a great plot and equally great characters.
Friends since the fourth grade, Crystal and Haley were always close. Even at a young age, they felt a special kind of love for one another, but neither really knew what category to place that emotion into. Now, Crystal is 18 and her dreams about Haley have matured along with her years. Crystal is an artist who uses her ability to calm herself as well as spark her imagination. This one morning, after dreams of Haley have interrupted her sleep, she heads out on a nature trail that takes her past the fog-encrusted pond in the woods behind her house located in Clear, Alaska. Readers learn from Crystal, as she describes herself, that she is a “special needs” kid with a special power. (And the awesome illustrations on the cover and within the book prove that talent). You see, she can draw the shape of virtually everything using one continuous line, never removing her pen from the paper while creating the creature, image, location, etc.
Crystal also states that she has no fear, which amazes the reader as facts are unveiled about her backstory. Her brother, JD, and Crystal are being raised by their grandparents, Mac and Summer. Mom left them fourteen years ago and never returned. The grandparents state that there was a car wreck and blame their father, Eugene, for the entire event. But, as with all plotlines in this story, there are a variety of tales, fact and fiction, to be explored.
JD is a sweet brother to Crystal. A large linebacker of a guy, JD is, unfortunately, disabled. His hips deformed, he walks with a limp and is the focus of bullies who love to tease him. He also has a hard time in school when it comes to classes, failing every subject. However, even when people wish to give up on JD’s future, Crystal trusts that his MacGyver-like talents to hunt, fish, build anything out of literally anything, added to the love he receives from his girlfriend Gena, will allow JD to live a good, solid life on his own one day.
Now that in-person school has started up, closed since the lockdown brought about by the pandemic, Crystal’s life is literally focused on Haley once again. And when she saves Haley from a harsh assault by her abusive boyfriend, the love between them is rekindled. But instead of happiness, Crystal’s life is turned upside down when Covid strikes her grandparents, and suddenly her drug-addicted parents may just return from their supposed graves.
Add in another amazing character by the name of Payton—an artist who likes to carry a gun by her side and is more than proud of the gay community—and you have a plot that author Brooke Skipstone invented perfectly. Touching upon a myriad of subjects ranging from the pandemic to sexual identity to living life with a disability, this is one upcoming author who delivered a fantastic story to readers. It does not take a crystal ball to state that, if this book is the “norm” when it comes to Ms. Skipstone’s writing abilities, she will gather many awards. Well done!