Different Kinds of Different by Caren J. Werlinger (PLUS A FREE BOOK! OR FOUR)

Turning-For-Home-Ylva-2560x1600-300dpi

Hey everyone! Just a quick note to let y’all know that the winners have been drawn and Caren is in the process of notifying people. I’m not sure who is getting paperback and who’s getting ebook, so I didn’t want to post it incorrectly here.

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to Caren and Ylva for their generosity.

Good morning, people! It’s Sunday morning and I’m in recovery mode from my son’s eleventh birthday party. It involved too much sugar and far too many yelling, running pre-teens. Mercy.

Today, the fabulous Caren J. Werlinger is joining us to share some insight into her newest release, Turning for Home. Her blog post is filled with a beautiful, poetic sort of wisdom, and I hope y’all enjoy the read as much as I did.

One last thing, Ylva has graciously offered to give away FOUR copies of Turning for Home, two ebook and two paperback. I don’t think the paperback will be signed as they are coming directly from Germany, but you never know. Maybe one of the fabulous women from Ylva can clarify that for us. Regardless, there are FOUR books up for grabs. Leave a comment in the space below and I will draw the winner this upcoming Friday, March 27.

Good Luck!

Different Kinds of Different
by Caren J. Werlinger

It is one of the ironies of life that we don’t truly appreciate some things until we can look back on them from the perspective of time.

Growing up has always been tricky terrain for kids who are different – different for whatever reason. I’m not sure that will ever change. Just a few weeks ago, Graham Moore revealed during his Academy Award acceptance speech that he attempted suicide when he was sixteen. “I felt weird and I felt different, and I felt like I did not belong.”

I knew as I was growing up in the 60s and 70s that I was lucky. I’ve written before about how I felt like a misfit growing up, but I had wonderful parents and fantastic friends who accepted my quirks. High school was actually a time I look back on fondly, unlike many people whose memories are horrific. But as I was working on my latest novel, Turning for Home, I re-examined my own growing up as I created characters for this story.

I am one of those who has always known I was gay. From my earliest memories, I knew I wanted a girl to like me, and I was always the hero in my games of make-believe. Even though I knew I was different in that way, it didn’t isolate me. I had lots of friends and always got into the four-square or baseball games during recess. Not like Eric Spain.

Did your school have that one weird kid, the one nobody wanted to play with or be friends with? Graham Moore might say he was that kid. In my elementary school, it was Eric. My memories of him are of a big kid, kind of lumpy and heavy, wearing clothes that weren’t too clean. He was kind of smelly (but probably all of us were, coming back in after playing outside on a hot day). He didn’t have any friends. He just kind of hung around, watching everyone else play. One day in third grade, I asked him if he wanted to play catch. He had a baseball mitt and ball. I had my mitt that day. I don’t know if anyone had ever asked him if he wanted to play. We played catch that day and for the next several. But he was so lonely, he wanted to play with me every day. I didn’t mind being his friend, but I didn’t want to be his only friend. I think I finally told him I wanted to play with other kids sometimes. I’m sure I hurt his feelings. We did play together sporadically after that, but it was always just the two of us. He was never welcome to join in with the other kids.

I hadn’t thought of Eric for years, until I began working on Turning for Home. I was thinking about the character of Hobie and remembered Eric. Suddenly, Hobie came fully to life.

The year after third grade, we moved, and I left Eric behind. By the time I got to high school, I had a wide circle of acquaintances, but there were four of us who were particularly tight. Two of us were lesbian, not that we had girlfriends or anything while in high school. I cannot explain why, but, within our little group, it was okay to be gay. I wasn’t stupid enough to think it would be like that with everyone, but as we fantasized about crushes on movie stars and singers and teachers, I felt free to gush about Barbra Streisand and Olivia Newton-John and my Spanish teacher. It was never a weird thing among the four of us.

When I was a sophomore, I developed a huge crush on a senior girl. I thought she was gorgeous. Rather than ridiculing me and rejecting my clumsy efforts at letting her know how much I adored her (including a bouquet of roses snipped from the neighbor’s bushes in the middle of the night), she was actually nice. She could have made my life a living hell, but she didn’t. She was nothing but kind to me, even though she most definitely was not gay.

The older I get, the more I realize how blessed and protected I was from the slings and arrows that accost so many teens, especially those growing up different.

In my story, my main character, Jules, was practically the last one to realize she was lesbian. She was a misfit for a lot of other reasons: a prickly tomboy being raised by her grandparents after her mother took off; a girl the other girls didn’t particularly like. Her best friend was Hobie, another misfit.

A generation later, a teen who lives in Jules’s hometown and attends the same high school reaches out to her. Unlike Jules, Ronnie already knows and accepts that she is gay. She has no friends, no one in whom she can confide, but in many ways, she’s a stronger person than Jules was at that age.

I find it interesting that, even as people gush about how much more open today’s teens can be about their sexuality, and how fluid that concept has become, there are still a lot of LGBT teens living in small towns with absolutely no support. A lot of attention has been paid to homeless LGBT youth in cities, but for those still in their small towns, those kids are often truly isolated, with no means of finding others like them. As Jules notes in the novel, the Internet makes it easier to be aware of what’s out there, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into making it more accessible. And kids don’t just feel different because they’re LGBT. There are lots of different kinds of different.

I hope they listen to Graham Moore’s inspiring message. “Stay weird. Stay different.”


Caren J. Werlinger is the author of seven novels, which have won two GCLS Awards and a Rainbow Award. She still works a day job as a physical therapist in Virginia where she lives with her partner and two canine fur-kids.

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71 thoughts on “Different Kinds of Different by Caren J. Werlinger (PLUS A FREE BOOK! OR FOUR)

  1. I can relate to being the last to figure out one’s own sexuality, it was that way for me. When I finally did catch a clue, it explained a lot about my teenage years. It was hard enough then, I can’t really imagine how hard it is for kids now, let alone the kids who suspect, or know, that they’re gay. A fine post, you’ve prompted some reflection here. Thank you for being thought-provoking.

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  2. wow, that sure brought back memories. My first crush was a senior, and President of the GAA. She, too was kind, gentle, and straight. In retrospect, she probably did me a great favor. The book sounds terrific!

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  3. I’m glad I’m weird, different or whatever you want to call it. I wave my nerd flag proudly. My lesbian flag proudly. My feminist proud proudly. My true friends accept me no matter what.

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  4. I know about all kinds of different. After ‘looking inside’ it seems like Jules is of my blood group. I’d like to have the book.

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  5. Jove, glad you’re recovering from Wyatt’s party, sounds like they had a great time.
    TURNING FOR HOME sounds a lot like my childhood – I felt like a misfit all my life at school and at home. It was far worse at home. I have one sibling – he is 18 mos. older than I am and he came to see me while I was visiting my Mom last month (1st tme I’ve seen him in 8 or 9 years) because he found out I was dying of cancer and his wife made him. We lived in the same county until I got sick. I really would like to read Caren’s new book.

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  6. G’day, I’m sure if like Caren’s other books, “Turning for Home” will be a fantastic read! Can’t wait to read it. Please count me in!
    Cheers.

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  7. Caren, I am looking forward to reading this one. I am particularly pleased that you bring up the topic of youngsters in small towns. I agree, while the trend seems to be that it is much more acceptable to be ‘gay’ these days, some people still struggle with their own acceptance. These are not always youth either as some mature adults struggle with their own sexuality. Thanks for the blog.

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    1. Devlyn, thank you so much. I think this story will touch all of us who grew up or are growing up in small towns. And you’re also right that it isn’t just kids who struggle. Good luck in the drawing.

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  8. Your blog was very thought provoking and made me remember my younger days too…too much in common!! Would this novel be appropriate for middle school students? As I build a library for my LGBTQ students, I’m always looking for a new author that helps them to feel less weird or different while still being able to own who they are, and who they are becoming…

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    1. Sandi, thank you so much for your comments. Unfortunately, this novel has some scenes too intimate for middle schoolers. If you don’t mind interjecting a little history as well, my novel, Miserere, would be perfect reading for them. It features a ten-year-old (who is older than her years) during the summer of 1968 – dealing with her father being MIA in Vietnam, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. Through visions/dreams from her ancestor who disappeared during the Civil War, she becomes aware of her own sexuality in a way that is perfectly acceptable for younger readers. This novel, Turning for Home, I think would be more appropriate for high schoolers. Good luck in the drawing.

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      1. Thank you so much for all of the valuable information! Miserere sounds like a perfect fit; we touch upon many historical connections so no issues there. Thanks for writing Miserere because it is difficult to find books that speak to budding feels that have enough connections to being LGBTQ while still not stepping over the line of me being employed or fired 😳 I’ll try to find a copy…thanks again 📚✌️

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  9. Hello Fellow Virginian,

    Congratulations on your new novel. I look forwarding to reading it. I grew up in a small town and understand how hard it is to grown up gay in those surroundings. I too knew I was gay at an early age, I just didn’t have a “label” for myself until years later. I didn’t hear the word “gay” until I was a teenager.

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  10. Sounds like a good story. Would love to read it 😊. I myself didn’t come out until I was 35, and no one was really surprised. Except maybe me. It was a very freeing experience.

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    1. Thank you, Leslie. A lot of us didn’t smarten up until we were a bit older! And doesn’t it always seem like everyone else knew before you? That’s how it was for my partner. Good luck in the drawing!

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  11. I wish I could be a writer and tell stories as good as all your books have been. I can’t wait for Turning for Home. I’m living in a place for the right reasons but I can’t stop thinking of home and returning as soon as possible. Thanks for offering free books. I’d appreciate a paperback. I can’t get use to my Kindle.

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