The Honest Writer: “Shadowboxing,” a novel by Paul Sophia
Paula Sophia’s novel, Shadowboxing, dares you to keep reading. This is a painful, tense, and authentic account of a young man’s struggle with sexual identity. Bill Guyles joins the Oklahoma City Police force after serving in Iraq. He has a girlfriend, albeit a particularly flaky one, who’s not interested in commitment and comes and goes as she pleases. He does everything he can to join the world of men, he longs for acceptance in that world, yet it terrifies him, too. His is the terror of being found out, branded, and ultimately shunned. Again and again he confronts the hatred of his colleagues towards homosexuals and transgenders, while probing his own soul and the feelings he has long experienced and ignored. He endures the mistreatment of one particularly cruel police officer, only to discover this man has dark secrets of his own. When he can’t take it any more, Guyles confront the office, and uses his skill and training as a boxer to get even. Finally, reflecting on what he’s done, he decides the time has come to live out in the open as the person he truly is. A marvelously affecting novel, delicately yet truthfully rendered, that opens our eyes to the very difficult struggle of self-acceptance.