Category Archives: Under the Rainbow

Review: Under the Rainbow by Celia Laskey

Title: Under the Rainbow by Celia Laskey
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQ, Literary Fiction
Length: 286 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


When a group of social activists arrive in a small town, the lives and beliefs of residents and outsiders alike are upended, in this wry, embracing novel.

Big Burr, Kansas, is the kind of place where everyone seems to know everyone, and everyone shares the same values-or keeps their opinions to themselves. But when a national nonprofit labels Big Burr “the most homophobic town in the US” and sends in a task force of queer volunteers as an experiment-they’ll live and work in the community for two years in an attempt to broaden hearts and minds-no one is truly prepared for what will ensue.

Furious at being uprooted from her life in Los Angeles and desperate to fit in at her new high school, Avery fears that it’s only a matter of time before her “gay crusader” mom outs her. Still grieving the death of her son, Linda welcomes the arrivals, who know mercifully little about her past. And for Christine, the newcomers are not only a threat to the comforting rhythms of Big Burr life, but a call to action. As tensions roil the town, cratering relationships and forcing closely guarded secrets into the light, everyone must consider what it really means to belong. Told with warmth and wit, Under the Rainbow is a poignant, hopeful articulation of our complicated humanity that reminds us we are more alike than we’d like to admit.


Celia Laskey’s debut Under the Rainbow  offers an intriguing peek into small town America and its relationship with the LGBTQ community.

Through a series of vignettes from different characters’ perspectives, each chapter offers a glimpse into the Acceptance Across America (AAA) workers and townspeople’s lives.  Avery is uprooted from Los Angeles to Big Burr, KS when her mom accepts a position with AAA. She is struggling to be true to herself while also trying to keep her family’s association with AAA under wraps. Linda is grieving a tragic loss and unexpectedly finds solace through volunteering with the AAA. Christine is a devout Christian who is adamantly opposed to the gay community and the AAA. David and his partner Miguel relocate to Big Burr and their life is quickly complicated by an older family member’s medical issues and lack of gay community. Zach is a teenager struggling to fly under the radar and attention of his classmates. Gabe is an avid hunter and family man who questions the life he has made for himself. Henry blames the AAA when he makes a shocking discovery about a loved one.  While each chapter is narrated by a specific character and their life in Big Burr, other characters sometimes overlap with the current narrator.  The final chapter in the novel offers a brief glimpse of how many of the characters have fared long after the AAA have moved on from Big Burr.

Under the Rainbow  is a fast-paced novel with an interesting cast of characters and distinctive plot. The characters are well-developed but some are more appealing and memorable than others. Some of the characters’ actions and opinions are a bit stereotyped while others are refreshingly unique. Celia Laskey’s debut is a thought-provoking novel that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Comments Off on Review: Under the Rainbow by Celia Laskey

Filed under Celia Laskey, Contemporary, LGBTQ, Literary Fiction, Rated B, Review, Riverhead Books, Under the Rainbow