Posy Roberts is a new author to me, so a new author to the blog. But I really wanted to write about her newest book, Socks For an Otter, because it really just gave me the feelz.
Before we get into the story, I need to tell you that there are no real otters in this story. Instead, the otter in the story is a gay man. There are a lot of terms that people use to describe various types of gay men. The only two we need to worry about right now are otters and wolves. But first, we need to understand bears. Yeah, I know, all these terms. So, bears are the big, hairy, cuddly gay men. They like beer, wear flannel and plaid, you know the kind. Think lumberjack. That’s the surface level description. Then you have otters. Otters are basically bears-lite. They are generally leaner and less hairy. A wolf is somewhere in between an otter and a bear, but they are more aggressive than bears are. But not aggressive in a bad way. Now that we know that, we can talk about this story.
Sebastian, Bash, is a young, homeless gay man on the streets of Washington DC. He has been homeless for nearly a year now, and it hasn’t been easy. He was born a rich boy. He had all the money ever, all the privilege, and was basically brought up to be decorative. Then his father kicked him out, without a cent. No friends, no money, no nothing, Bash ends up on the streets. He left NYC to go to DC because he thought the weather would be a little better, but this winter is showing him that he’s wrong. It wouldn’t be so bad, except the city just did a huge sweep and trashed a lot of stuff, including the tent that he had worked so hard to get. Now, it’s freezing, a huge storm is coming in, he’s starving, he doesn’t have a warm coat, his shoes are falling apart, and on his way into the food pantry, he ran into some asshole who is donating blue crabs, of all things.
Louis grew up on Chesapeake Bay. Sometimes quite literally on the bay. His father was a water man, and he would go out and help his father fish. On this snowy night, at Christmas time, he has just left his parents’ home with a whole buttload of crabs that his father caught. Louis has kept as many as he can eat, but he still has a lot, so he decides that he will take them to the food pantry where he often donates and volunteers. He does a lot of work with the homeless and low income population as a volunteer, plus for work, he helps to create policy around those same things. On his way into the pantry, he runs into a guy because he was busy looking at his cell phone. The guy kinda yells at him, but Louis, for some reason, invites the guy to come to dinner at his house. They both end up in the pantry, through different routes, and are introduced to each other. Eventually, Bash gets convinced to go to Louis’ house for dinner.
One of the things that really got to me about this book is that it doesn’t glamourize homelessness. Nor does it gloss it over. We get what I think is a realistic look at homelessness, especially when it comes to being a single, gay man. There aren’t a lot of shelters that have space for single men, and there are a lot of shelters where queer people just aren’t safe, for whatever reason. And we get to see that from Bash’s POV.
Louis, for all of his knowledge and volunteer work, learns things from Bash, things that he would’ve never really thought of before. Like that there are a lot of things that get donated to shelters and food pantries that aren’t as helpful as they could be. And the fact that one of the number one things that shelters and other agencies look to be donated are socks. Which is where the title of the book comes from. Never, ever underestimate the power of a nice, warm pair of socks. They don’t have to be fancy, or have patterns on them, but a nice new pair of socks can be heaven. If you want to ever donate anything, socks, underwear, and toiletries are totally awesome, especially the sample or travel sizes. Or, you can totally use Bombas, who donate a pair of socks for every pair of socks purchased.
Part of the reason that this book gave me so many feelz is because my family was homeless when my son was a baby. My husband, infant son, and I spent his first Christmas in a family shelter. We lived there for several weeks, and then lived with my MIL. Being homeless is scary, and we were lucky enough to be in a shelter and not have to worry about living on the streets during a nasty winter, and it was nasty that year.
Anyway, I really like Sebastian. He learned a lot of things, but I don’t think that he really let what happened turn him really bitter, which could’ve happened, easily. I mean, no, he wasn’t all sweetness and light about it, but he didn’t turn hateful. He did turn guarded and walled himself off a lot, but yeah, who wouldn’t be when they were basically thrown away.
Louis has a really good heart. When he made mistakes, he did it because his heart was in the right place and he really wanted to try to do his best, not because he was a clueless idiot just fumbling around. And he tried really hard to not make those mistakes again. He learns from those mistakes and takes those lessons and goes on to do better.
Javon had a good heart, but I think his implementation could’ve used some work.
I hate Bash’s dad.
OK, that’s all there is to say about this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!