Grown Folks Business
Victoria Christopher Murray
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Grown Folks Business
Victoria Christopher Murray
448 pages
May 2005
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Here is a book that took this reader by surprise. Grown Folks Business by Victoria Christopher Murray opens with Sheridan, an almost-forty-year-old married woman with two children, and her husband of seventeen years, Quentin. He tells her that he is in love with someone else, and that someone else is a man. It's a shock to Sheridan, who has always felt she had the perfect life – the perfect man (so attentive in all facets of her life), two happy children, financial security, and a deep faith in The Lord. She now realizes that the past seventeen years were a lie.

While she tries to deal with this shocking truth and Quentin moves out of their home and in with his lover, Jett, Sheridan tries her best to help her children adjust to the fact that she and their father are separated, and on their way to a divorce.

Sheridan and Quentin decide not to tell the children about Quentin's sexual orientation just yet, but their son Chris finds out by accident and does not take it very well. He begins to act out and insists that he be called "Christopher". Chris is sixteen years old and at an age where appearances matter. He tells his mother that he does not want to be mistaken for a girl with a name like “Chris”. Chris also begins to hang out with older kids just out of high school, kids from the wrong side of the tracks. When he starts bringing his new girl Deja home, Sheridan flips out, seeing the type of girl Deja is. He no longer wants to see his old friends, friends that Sheridan felt were a better influence on her son, friends who were God-fearing, went to church and were not caught up in families that were filled with drugs, alcohol, and out-of-wedlock babies.

Their daughter, Tori, who is nine years old, takes the news better than Chris, and when Quentin sets her aside to explain to her that he is gay, she accepts it with the unconditional love of a child. She looks forward to seeing Daddy whenever he comes to visit, while Christopher shuns his father and refuses to speak to him, even on the phone.

In the meantime, Sheridan seeks out her friend Kamora to figure out how to emotionally deal with everything. Kamora tells Sheridan that what Quentin is doing is a sin, and that it says so in the Bible. Sheridan then seeks out her pastor at church, who reminds Sheridan again that the Bible says it's a sin, but instead of condemning Quentin, Pastor asks Sheridan to bring him to counseling as well. Her parents do not judge Quentin, either, believing that he was born this way and that the best she can do is pray.

The next few months are not easy for any of them, but Sheridan does her best to move on with her life, as her husband has done already. But her mind will not allow her to forget what Quentin did, and it shames her. Part of her believes that if she had been a better wife, he would not have strayed. But as time passes, she slowly let’s go of the past and moves on with her future, finding that she can finally accept the fact that she is no longer a married woman.

While I enjoyed the story of how Sheridan and her family deal with the acceptance of a gay parent and the need to move on with their lives, I also liked the way Murray handled the "gay issue" in the Christian environment. Some of the characters show non-acceptance toward Quentin's coming out of the closet, while others try to accept him the way he is. All in all, the book was not overly preachy, but showed how a Christian family dealt with a major crisis that affected them in the home as well as with the Church.

There are also a number of characters that stand out, including Kamora, Sheridan’s crazily over-sexed best friend. Having Kamora featured in this story of what is morally correct made a good argument of contrasts between Quentin’s homosexuality and Kamora’s obvious promiscuity. And all this is done in an approachable manner that will not turn off the average non-Christian reader. With that said, those who read this and are not of the Christian persuasion will probably enjoy it, as long as they keep an open mind to the themes in the book and are willing to listen to what is being said and not judge. Grown Folks Business by Victoria Christopher Murray is aimed at the Christian audience, but it worked fine with me, a non-Christian reader who enjoys a wide variety of genres and backgrounds in her fiction reading.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Marie Hashima Lofton, 2005

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