Publisher/Date: Bookshelf Global Publishing, Sept. 2005
Genre(s): College Life, Romance, Studs & Femmes
Few understand the ordeals black lesbians go through in relationships, but Natalie Simone has compellingly portrayed what we feel in her debut novel, GIRLS JUST DON’T DO THAT.
Through the eyes of several main characters, the tale of six college women at the University of Georgia takes on several types of relationship woes.
First is Delia, a pretty tomboy type with a seemingly shy demeanor and thoughtful personality. She is the loner type, preferring to have a small circle of friends. Though her strikingly good looks could pull any woman on campus, Delia doesn’t play games with women’s hearts. So why she becomes involved with Jayne, her old high school nemesis, is beyond comprehension.
Jayne is the complete opposite of Delia. She’s a sorority-girl type, an arrogant, gorgeous beauty who was once overweight and made life miserable for Delia back in the day. Jayne’s homophobic behavior toward Delia pitted them against each other, but when they are now paired up on a class project, Delia lets go of the past and sees Jayne for the dime she’s turned into. She can’t help but become enraptured by Jayne’s charm, and they begin a one-sided relationship, where Jayne reaps all the pleasurable benefits. Delia knows she’s being played, but can’t free herself from Jayne’s cunning spell.
And while Delia is being used, her best friend Shavonne is being abused by her girlfriend, Tracy. She lives on eggshells night after night, not knowing what mood could set Tracy off on a rampage, especially when Tracy comes home drunk. In Shavonne’s eyes, it was all so good in the beginning, as in most abusive relationships. As the disrespect worsens every day, Shavonne felt she couldn’t tell anyone what was happening because “girls just don’t do that.” Who would believe that a woman could beat another woman? One thing Shavonne does know is that she has to get out – one way or another.
If someone had asked Stacy three months ago would she ever be attracted to a woman, the answer would have been no. Yet somehow Stacy – an aspiring lawyer from a well-to-do family – spots Kendal and is infatuated with what she thinks is a handsome dude. When she discovers Kendal’s a woman, Stacy can’t help being turned on by her feminine/masculine appeal. Though she has a boyfriend, Stacy’s body betrays her head when she’s around Kendal. Now Stacey has to decide whether to leave her two-year relationship headed toward a white-picket future, or be with the woman who completes her emotionally and physically. Girls just don’t do that, remember?
Simone’s Girls Just Don’t Do That, written several years prior, still resonates with readers. You’ll be drawn into these women’s lives and inner turmoil as they decide what’s best for them to be happy. As an added bonus, Simone includes “Dyke Categories” at the end of the book, which describes several types of stud and femme black lesbian personas. I like the fact Simone not only has the potent gift of storytelling but can also impart knowledge, as well.
Simone has a new novel coming soon, one that follows the scandalous Jayne, a person who refuses to declare herself bisexual even after sleeping with several women. After reading Girls, that’s one I’ll definitely pick up.
Reviewed June 2009