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Destiny Del Carmen has come home to Idaho for a conference against her better judgment. Her past in Idaho is fraught with rejection and abandonment, which leads to her current modus operandi of loving women and leaving them in a string of one night stands. After all, if she leaves before the sun comes up she can’t very well be abandoned by them, can she? She’s Dusty to those who know her in a casual setting, but she’s Destiny on the author circuit. She’s written a break-out book about the unjust treatment of Native Americans on the reservation in a book by the same name. It’s Reservations that has brought her to Idaho, where her agent, Teggy, has requested she also visit an old friend, a professor at Boise State University, to speak to her class involved in an advocacy campaign for Native Americans. However, before she visits the class or speaks at the conference, Dusty picks up a bartender from a local bar in an attempt to quell her unease at being back in her childhood home. The results could prove disastrous—or they could be Dusty’s salvation.
Professor Morgan West is the chair of the Institute of Public Service at Boise State. She’s settled into her life of teaching and she’s pretty much recovered from her last unpleasant breakup, so if love shows up unexpectedly, it remains to be seen if she’d be open to it. Morgan has enlightened class after class with her service learning projects. She’s an exceptional teacher and mentor to her students and she’s excited to have snagged author Destiny Del Carmen to speak to her class through her old classmate, Teggy. After Del Carmen’s presentation, Morgan, too, is headed for the same conference as the author and she looks forward to Destiny’s keynote address there.
The two women meet in Professor West’s classroom and they both get the surprise of their lives causing Dusty to run for the hills the minute the session is over. Once the professor catches up with her at the conference, she tries to mend fences and the two come to an agreement to be cordial for the duration of the meeting. However, an early morning hike brings trouble to their footpath and the two must struggle with more than an uncomfortable relationship while stranded in a cabin on the mountain.
Descriptions of settings are well done, allowing us to feel surrounded by the beauty of the mountains and the smell of pine trees. The tension brought about in their struggle for survival in extremely dangerous situations will keep the reader turning pages. Each of the main characters is well defined and their flawed personalities, exposed during the course of the story with missed cues, miscommunication and general fear and stubbornness keeps them apart, making us wonder if these two will ever push beyond past experiences and embrace a relationship as their “destiny.”
Castro shows us the trauma of abandonment Dusty has long struggled with, as well as Morgan’s inability to communicate with Dusty to draw her out keeping them from becoming closer. The history of the plight of Native Americans is woven throughout the tale, both enlightening us and giving the story depth. There are, however, multiple places where the story could have used a heavier hand by an editor, with distractions of repetitive words and passive voice, but the struggles of the main characters and the story itself is appealing.
Homecoming is a study in what can happen when a young lesbian is outed and subsequently left without support of family and friends. Castro has given us a good first effort, a romantic story showing us how Dusty and Morgan struggle to overcome their anxieties and their insecurities, making us hopeful for a happy ending with Dusty finally able to return home.
By Celeste Castro
Paperback, 9781594935558, 214 pp.