The Grass Sweeper God by Dough Howery

The Grass Sweeper God by Dough Howery
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Illustrated by Mario Nevado and Jackie Cangro

In the 1950s Appalachia coal fields of Solitude, VA. Smiley Hanlon is placed in the "Mentally Retarded" Class. Because he is different.

Being different in America has never been easy; being born different and in the wrong body in Solitude, Virginia in the 1950s, is brutal. Smiley Hanlon lives day to day trapped in a Coal Miners town, buffeted by the Appalachians and generations of hate and mistrust. Any hint of being different or being a ‘freak’ is enough to ostracize you, pigeon hole you and make you a target for bullying – or worse. Backed by his best friend and protector, Lee Moore, Smiley made it through the days…until the night everything shattered. Chosen as the lead in a new town production called Dorothy of Oz Coal Camp, it seemed to be the beginning of acceptance and maybe even happiness, but the world is cruel and mankind even crueler. The triumph of the play decayed into a Coal Miners' version of “Carrie”, culminating in a tragic and horrific moment that would change both Smiley and Lee forever. In the autumn of 1950, his father Ted viciously attacks precocious, effeminate 16-year-old Smiley Hanlon. Smiley and his friend and protector Lee keep the attack a secret. Because of their sexual identity, Lee and Smiley are banished from their family in Solitude, Virginia, and find refuge in New York.

This is their story and the story of so many others who suffered under the psychology of the day that their sexual identity is a sickness.