Weekend Reads: “Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins”

Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and CabinsWelcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins by Katarina Bivald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to admit, this book took a little time to find its footing. It begins with Henny Broek, resident of Pine Creek, Ore., being hit and killed by a truck while crossing the street. Then, the primary narrator is Henny’s ghost, trying to figure out what to do next.

In the mean while, we see her friends (MacKenzie, Camila, and Michael) trying to find their way through grief at the motel where all of them worked. All of them except Michael, who made his way out in the world as a geologist. And then there’s Henny’s dad, Robert, who is determined to make everyone understand that his daughter was “normal.”

Why? Because a whole lot of people in town presume she was a lesbian.

And this is where things get complicated. We get to see a whole lot of homophobic attitude on display from the townsfolk. The book is, after all, set during the days of Oregon’s two Measure 9 initiatives, which were created by an anti-LGBT organization to restrict the rights of gay and transgender people. The reason this is complicated, for me, is that I grew up in a podunk Oregon town with far too many parallels to the fictional Pine Creek. I would love to tell you that attitudes there are different from those of the author’s 1990s Pine Creek, but I can’t. The anti-LGBTQ+ movement that is writ large in the news these days is alive and well in my hometown.

So, this book was hard for me in many ways. One of my best friends in high school was a gay guy who couldn’t be safely “out” because of people like the ones in this book.

In other words, it’s some incredibly realistic fiction that was well worth waiting for things to pick up; Henny’s friends figure things out about themselves and the world that they might not have managed if she’d never been their friend.

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6 thoughts on “Weekend Reads: “Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins”

  1. One of the toughest moments, aged 19, student, needing to tell another girl I didn’t feel the same way.
    Better times ? Three of my first cousins are LGBT – and 1 of the older generation too, who had a harder time.

    Liked by 1 person

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