Just Like February

To Rachel, there’s no one in the world like her uncle Jake. Handsome and mysterious, he fills her with stories, sends postcards and gifts from exotic places. And he’s so much more fun to be with than her parents, who are always fighting. When she learns he’s gay, she keeps it under wraps. And when he gets sick, she doesn’t even tell her best friends. Until she realizes that secrecy does more harm than good.

Framed by the passions of the ’60s and the AIDS crisis of the ’80s, Just Like February begins with the wedding of Rachel’s parents when she’s five and ends with her sexual awakening as Jake is dying. As this poignant coming-of-age story unfolds, Rachel is forced to reckon with a home broken by the stormy love between her mother (a social worker) and her father (a Vietnam veteran) and a heart broken by the realities of homophobia and AIDS.

Author: Deborah Batterman

Publication Date: April 10, 2018



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2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards: Finalist in First Novel (70,000-90,000 words)
2018 Best Book Awards Finalist: Fiction/Literary
2018 International Book Awards Finalist in Fiction: Literary
2018 American Fiction Awards Finalist: Coming of Age

Just Like February is a remarkable achievement. Told through the eyes of Rachel, daughter of a flower child and a Vietnam veteran who can never quite decide if they want or like each other, Rachel comes of age caught in their seesawing relationship, and an extended family dominated by fierce grandmother Ruth and beloved uncle Jake. As Rachel grows, the novel becomes a deeply personal and beautifully detailed chronicle of the U.S. during three of its most unforgettable decades. Beginning in 1969, the time of the moon landing and Chappaquiddick, Just Like February moves through the lost ideals of the 1970s to the Reagan years, when Rachel’s uncle becomes a victim of the AIDS epidemic. Few novels are able to capture so well the truth of James Baldwin’s observation that ‘the individual is history writ small.’ Just Like February is a funny, compelling, and heartbreaking read.”
—Susanne Paola Antonetta, author of Make Me a Mother: A Memoir and editor of Bellingham Review

Just like February is a wonderful novel, beautifully told, that vividly captures the sweet love of a young girl for her charismatic uncle. Deborah Batterman has a light touch with tough issues in this poignant coming-of-age story. A brave heroine, who finds her own strength even as her family is falling apart, Rachel Cohen will steal your heart.
—Celine Keating, author of Play for Me and Layla

Just like February is a chronicle of love, family, heartbreak, and healing, jam-packed with warmth and humor. Deborah Batterman’s portrayals of the lives and travails of her characters are so clear-eyed, so perceptive and poetic, that this reader hated to see the story end.”
—Rossandra White, author of Monkey’s Wedding and Loveyoubye

“A beautifully told account of a young woman finding her way in ‘that barbed-wire netherworld called growing up.’ In the course of this short but richly-textured novel, Rachel Cohen grows from an observant five-year-old into a clear-eyed but sensitive teenager. She has few illusions about her slightly off-kilter family, which includes a much-loved gay uncle, a warm but sharp-tongued grandmother, and parents caught up in the sexual revolution as it rambles from Woodstock to the age of AIDS. Through it all, Rachel’s distinctive voice underscores her evolving understanding of the world and herself.”
— Bruce Shenitz, former executive editor of Out Magazine

“The author gives depth to her characters, especially Rachel, and visibly demonstrates their changes through the years. Her young protagonist’s childhood naïveté is charming, but the reader will enjoy seeing her become an elegant, mature young woman, aged by experiences that many other people never witness.  An ultimately optimistic and hopeful novel about growing up amid personal and political disarray.”
Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

A native New Yorker, Deborah Batterman is the author of Shoes Hair Nails, a short story collection framed around everyday symbols in our world and their resonance in our lives. She is a Pushcart nominee and her award-winning fiction appears in the Women’s National Book Association’s 2017 centennial anthology. Her stories and essays have appeared in anthologies as well as various print and online journals, including Dr. T. J. Eckleburg Review, Akashic Book’s Terrible TwosdaysEvery Mother Has a Story, Vol. 2, Open to Interpretation: Fading Light, and Mom Egg Review, Vol. 14. Learn more about her at deborahbatterman.com.