Love Like Gumbo

Winner of the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation

Love Like Gumbo book cover image by Barbara Earl Thomas

Love Like Gumbo

is available as

an Ebook.

Excerpt from Love Like Gumbo by Nancy Rawles 

If she kept giving in to her family’s demands, Grace would never succeed in making a life for herself. The rules and rites of Creole society were too much for her. She refused to comb her hair more than once a day. She didn’t know how to sew. She was not fond of gossip and did not give or receive it well. She did not understand the concept of a secret. Grace was twenty, but she still didn’t know how to set the table for a family reunion—who to seat next to whom, where to put the left-handers and the babies. Nor did she understand how to make herself presentable for company, how to apply just enough shadow to make her eyes look bigger and just enough blush to make her skin look brighter, or how to love a Creole boy.

Grace had a lover. Her name was Elena. She was not a Creole boy. Grace couldn’t decide which was worse, the fact of her not being a boy or the fact of her not being a Creole. She was Mexican, which Grace considered to be close enough. Both groups were walk-on-your-knees-to-the-basilica people with shrines in their back yards. Elena’s family had kicked her out when they discovered she was marimacha, a discovery made with Grace in attendance. Now she lived in a large four-bedroom house on Normandie Avenue with three other fallen-away Catholics—a Lebanese-American who had converted to the Baha’i faith, a Korean Quaker, and a Caucasian atheist from Michigan who was very active in the John Brown Anti-Klan Society. Elena was planning to move out in February when the lease came up, and she had asked Grace to move in with her.

At first, Grace had hesitated. Even though they’d been going together for more than four years (they’d met in their junior year at Our Lady of Fatima Girls High School), Grace doubted their love could withstand such intimacy. After all, neither one of them could cook. But life at home had become most stifling with the rising expectations of age. Where were the boys, the pristine young Creole men who came calling after other girls Grace’s age? She wasn’t unattractive. Why didn’t she go to parties? Why didn’t she fix her hair?

copyright Nancy Rawles, all rights reserved