Book Review: Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez
How do we know who we are, when we’re nothing like the rest of our family? One way is to leave home, to start afresh in a new city and not to go back. That’s what I did in the 1980s, when I left university for Paris daring to be someone I couldn’t be back home.
And that’s what Jesse did, when he decided to walk away from a thwarted life in Wolverhampton, in favour of the enticing possibilities of queer London, in favour of being true to his nature, taking the natural risks of youth, in the absence of the harsh judgements of his parents.
However, that’s where the similarity ends, as Jesse is black of Jamaican origin, and Jesse had been raised as a Jehovah’s Witness by his Mum and step Dad. In fact the theme of racism and the experience of prejudice and abuse of his ancesters, the Windrush generation, arriving inUK, in search of opportunity and freedom, is as central as sexual identity and coming out.
Paul Mendez cleverly draws a parallel between his grandparents’ searching for opportunity in 1950’s Britain, with Jesse’s search to love and have sex with men, while growing into his full potential as an adult without fear . Both encounter betrayal, violence and tenderness along the way, skilfully written by an author who knows what he’s writing about.
Reviewed by by David Lynch, volunteer.