I grew up a in a working class, ethnic, mostly Catholic neighborhood on Detroit’s east side at a time when young girls were not expected to question their elders or have dreams beyond marriage. I quickly identified with the struggles of the heroine in Gloria Nixon-John’s new novel (also named Gloria), Learning from Lady Chatterly. If you really want to experience Detroit in the 50s, this is a priceless ticket.
The novel’s Gloria is the teenage daughter of Italian immigrants in a Wonder Bread neighborhood. As the book’s cover explains, “what sets Gloria apart is the fact that she pays attention, enough attention to discover that the neighborhood local war hero is a pedophile, that her best friend’s mother is a Nazi. What makes her different is what she learns from her father when the first black family moves into the neighborhood on Detroit’s east side, and what she learns about her own , sometimes dark heart when the home of the affluent kids are literally picked up and moved to make way for the I-94 Expressway.”
Gloria also has a crush on the neighborhood bad-boy and sneaks books out of the adult sections of the public library – books about love, sex and sorrow. In short, Learning from Lady Chatterly is a story that is both distinct about a certain time and place – and universal in its tale about the pain of growing up and being different.
I met the author, Gloria Nixon-John when I took a writing workshop at the Warren Public Library-Civic Center in the Summer of 2013 and admired her published poetry, essays and fiction, especially her previous novel, The Killing Jar, about one of the youngest Americans to have served on death row, published in June 2012 by Neverland Publishing. Learning from Lady Chatterly is available in paperback on Amazon.