Finding H.F. by Julia Watts ⋆ Green Woman Store

Finding H.F. by Julia Watts


Heavenly Francis (HF) and her best friend Bo, two closeted queers, on a road trip through the American south to find H.F.’s mother awakens a realization of a future life that is very different than what she expected. Winner of the 2001 Lambda Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction.

Abandoned by her mother and raised by her loving but religiously zealous grandmother, 16-year-old Heavenly Faith Simms (H.F. for short) has never felt like she belonged anywhere. When she finds her mother’s address in a drawer, she and her best friend, Bo, an emotionally repressed gay boy, hit the road in Bo’s scrap heap of a car and head south. Their journey through the heart of the American South awakens both teens to the realization that there is a life waiting for them that is very different from what they have known and that the concept of family is more far-reaching than they had ever imagined.


Written with a Southern flare and laced with Appalachian expressions, Watts has been able to bring the friendship of a lesbian and gay boy to life, illuminating the isolation the two experience in a place where gays aren’t accepted and where queer culture isn’t always immediately visible to the eye.

When the two hit the road, their first time out of this small dry town, they find adventures along the way in Knoxville and Atlanta where they are exposed to queer people, gay-friendly religion and gay culture.

The lesbian characters Watts creates in this story are strong and speak to various facets of diverse lesbian identities. While depicted as a tomboy, HF is a strong lesbian character and very sure of who she is, just not always of her place in the world. One of the strongest elements of the novel is the way Watts takes HF and Bo into a world that reconciles Christianity and homosexuality.

Watts takes her readers on a journey from the invisible to visible, from small town to large town and back again. Well-written and told from a young adult’s perspective, Watts’ compelling story introduces readers to rural gays, the southern United States and a wide variety of homosexual characters and experiences.

Julia Watts Finding H FA native of Southeastern Kentucky, Julia Watts is the author of nine novels, including the Lambda Literary Award-winning VOYA-recommended young-adult novel Finding H.F. Her 2007 novel The Kind of Girl I Am was a Lambda Literary Award finalist, and her 2008 novel Kindred Spirits is the first in a series of middle-grade novels featuring an unlikely trio of friends: a telepathic girl, a tech-savvy boy, and a ghost.

Watts has received grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and her essays and fiction have appeared in a variety of publications, including The American Voice, Brain/Child, The Journal of Kentucky Studies, and Now and Then. She holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University and an M.A. in English from the University of Louisville. She teaches at South College in Knoxville, where she lives with her family and numerous pets. She loves to write.

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