LUM

Libby Ware

Winner of the American Library Association Stonewall Barbara Gittings Honor Award

Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award Debut Fiction

Shortlist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award from Foreword Reviews

Lum has always been on the outside. At eight, she was diagnosed with what we now call an intersex condition and is told she can't expect to marry. Now, at thirty-three, she has no home of her own but is shuttled from one relative's house to another—valued for her skills, but never treated like a true member of the family.

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Winner of the American Library Association Stonewall Barbara Gittings Honor Award

Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award Debut Fiction

Shortlist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award from Foreword Reviews

Lum has always been on the outside. At eight, she was diagnosed with what we now call an intersex condition and is told she can't expect to marry. Now, at thirty-three, she has no home of her own but is shuttled from one relative's house to another—valued for her skills, but never treated like a true member of the family. Everything is turned upside down, however, when the Blue Ridge Parkway is slated to come through her family’s farmland. As people take sides in the fight, the community begins to tear apart—culminating in an act of violence and subsequent betrayal by opponents of the new road. However, the Parkway brings opportunities as well as loss.

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  • She Writes Press
  • Paperback
  • October 2015
  • 224 Pages
  • 9781631520037

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$16.95

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About Libby Ware

Libby Ware is a native of West Virginia, and she feels most at home in the Appalachian mountains, although she has made her home in Atlanta, Georgia for more than 30 years. She is the owner of Toadlily Books, an antiquarian and collectible book business. Her short story, “The Circuit,” (the beginning of Lum in slightly different form) was a finalist for the Poets and Writers Award for Georgia Writers, judged by Jennifer Egan. She is a member of Georgia Antiquarian Booksellers Association, the Atlanta Writers Club, and the Georgia Writers Association and is a fellow of The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences.

Praise

“…a startlingly good debut novel.” —Atlanta Magazine

“Libby Ware has written with a rich new southern voice and captured the dying art of storytelling in her debut novel.”

Ann Hite, author of the award-winning Ghost on Black Mountain

“…captivating….Ware writes with a charismatic Southern voice that will appeal to readers of Ron Rash, Lee Smith, and Wiley Cash. I read Lum from start to finish in one day and relished its fresh characters and take on history….select if for your book club, and get ready for a rip-roaring discussion.”

—Hungry for Good Books

“Lum is an engaging portrait of a village in the Virginia Blue Ridge during the Great Depression. Lum's courageous journey to selfhood is profound and moving, and a metaphor for the process of self-acceptance necessary for anyone who doesn't fit into traditional social norms.” —Lisa Alther, author of Kinfolks

Discussion Questions

Lum relies on her family for lodging. Discuss how the theme of home and homelessness fits into the novel.

Lum and others in the book are considered “freaks.” But many people in the community are prejudiced and judgmental and unkind—and don’t see anything freakish about themselves. Discuss.

Friendships define Lum’s life. Are her friends her real family?

How does this novel portray mothers?

What role do books play in this novel?

How much historical fiction have you read that includes minorities? How much fiction have you read that includes intersex characters?

How does this book inform your understanding of history?

Place is critical to Lum—both the book and the character. Could this novel have taken place elsewhere?

What do you consider the turning point for Lum in the story, the key moment when she is able to be herself, on her own terms? What other characters live on their own terms?

The scene at the carnival in which Lum looks at other “freaks” changes Lum. She is no longer one of the exceptions but part of the crowd. But the experience disturbs her. Do you think Lum will continue to rely on her postcards for community and solace after this experience at the fair?

How does this novel treat the subject of difference and being an outsider?

In this novel, food and alcohol play critical roles, freeing some, enslaving others. Discuss.

Lum’s family is deeply tied to their land. Are they as tied to one another? Why or why not?

What do you believe life was like for women in general at this time in history?

In the opening scene of the novel, a car struggles up a road with potholes. How is this symbolic? What do you think the last scene portends?

What do you hope for Lum?