Martha Johnson, former head of the General Services Administration, is trying her hand at young-adult fiction focused on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.
In April, Johnson resigned in the midst of a scandal about how much money the GSA was spending on conferences and the like. No worries. By the end of the summer, the former agency head could boast the publication of her novel! Perhaps she’s living proof that, for some people at least, it really does get better. “In Our Midst” is the story of Victor, Bridget and Vaughn, three young people from Stanton, Ind.
Stanton is a town of “church youth groups, a bustling diner, a summer Wood Carving Festival, and a busy mayor who also runs the mortuary,” the description reads. “But, this is not to be confused with a Norman Rockwell setting. The Gulf War is breaking out, Ryan White lives nearby, and AIDS is sweeping the nation.”
Victor is convinced that no gay people live in Stanton, which is especially concerning because he thinks he might be gay; Bridget is struggling with mourning her recently deceased father, and woven throughout both tales is the past story of a Korean War veteran, Vaughn, who dies the day he comes home from the war.
When Vaughn’s parents discovered he had a male lover, they perpetuate a cycle of shame and secrecy that stays in Stanton for decades.