A group of disparate individuals find solace, frustration, challenge and connection at a strip club.
Allyson, a single mother, dances as Kopper Kandy, a stripper whose signature is her black leather gloves, in order to provide for her daughter, Chantalle. Her mother, Claire, wrestles with the consequences of her marriage to Ally’s controlling stepfather, Wayne. Jeremy and Shay are a young couple falling in love despite his obsession with sex, control, and abandonment, and her fear of being controlled. Alberto is a husband who desperately wants to win back his wife’s love and desire. Brian is a closeted gay man taunted by his supposed friends. West is a lawyer who seeks relief from suffering – his own and others’. Their lives, and others, all intersect at the Exxxotica club where Allyson works – and the results might just be powerful enough to change them forever.
THE GRIND is a deeply moving story about sexuality, desire, and love, about the need to control and the need to escape being controlled, and ultimately about the deep-seated, fundamental need for human connection, however elusive it may be. The characters are fully-developed, powerfully intense, and all alternately emotionally fragile and fiercely strong in their own ways. Winward skilfully portrays all of them, particularly Ally, from their own perspective, giving the book an intimacy and an immediacy that intensify its emotional force. Even unsympathetic characters like Wayne get their say, showing clearly how understandable, if not likeable, their actions are. There is a sadness and a frustration to this book, a sense of how difficult if not impossible it is for two people truly to understand each other, but a thread of hope and light runs through it in places, too.
THE GRIND puts the human heart on display, unflinchingly showing it at its most broken and its most beautiful.