GENRE: Gay Romance
LENGTH: 80,393 words
Wise-cracking Wiley Cantrell is loud and roaringly outrageous -- and he needs to be to keep his deeply religious neighbors and family in the Deep South at bay. A failed writer on food stamps, Wiley works a minimum wage job and barely manages to keep himself and his deaf son, Noah, more than a stone’s throw away from Dumpster-diving.Noah was a meth baby and has the birth defects to prove it. He sees how lonely his father is and tries to help him find a boyfriend while Wiley struggles to help Noah have a relationship with his incarcerated mother, who believes the best way to feed a child is with a slingshot. No wonder Noah becomes Wiley’s biggest supporter when Boston nurse Jackson Ledbetter walks past Wiley’s cash register and sets his sugar tree on fire.Jackson falls like a wet mule wearing concrete boots for Wiley’s sense of humor. And while Wiley represents much of the best of the South, Jackson is hiding a secret that could threaten this new family in the making.When North meets South, the cultural misunderstandings are many, but so are the laughs, and the tears, but, as they say down in Dixie, it’s all good.EXCERPT:
I fumed at Nick Wilgus’ account of self-righteous “buckle of the bible belt” evangelical homophobia in “Shaking the Sugar Tree.” But I’ve never encountered a more eloquent portrayal of love, in all its glorious imperfection.
In its first edition, “Shaking the Sugar Tree “was written before the Supreme Court’s same sex marriage decision. It features Wiley Cantrell, once a successful writer, raising Noah solo; his deaf “meth baby,” who is now 9 years old. His family ridicules Wiley as a gay father who won’t let either “proper” (i.e. straight) grandparent raise Noah. Wiley works a part-time minimum wage job, both because of discrimination and Nick’s needs. But Wiley barely cares about material success. Noah’s love, a testament to Wiley’s superb parenting, is all Wiley thinks he needs.
How does he survive? With a wicked sense of humor that mimics his bigoted, but honest grandfather. Wiley’s comical, positive nature attracts Jackson, a Boston-born pediatric nurse who knows sign lang