“A Hell of a Relationship: A Tale of Love and Penance” (CreateSpace, $14.95) by Oklahoma author J.M. Harrison is set in Oklahoma City in the late 1950s and early '60s.
Mike Fisher first sees Tomi Sue Hudson bowling at the Bowlarena. She throws a nice curve but looks about 12 years old. A week later, Mike needs a partner for a doubles tournament. His friend offers to set Mike and Tomi Sue up on a blind date.
They fall in love, but Tomi Sue's father, Harry, disapproves. Mike has been married before and has an 8-year-old son. Mike runs cattle at the stockyards, and Harry doesn't think he can provide for Tomi Sue in the style to which she is accustomed.
Mike understands Harry's misgivings but is puzzled by the degree of dislike. When the couple decide to marry, Harry brings the police to arrest Mike, saying Tomi is underage, although she is of legal age to marry. Harry tells Mike he will never be welcome in his house. Mike and Tomi marry, and for about three years, friends and family tiptoe around the issue.
The book is written from many points of view, all hoping Harry will come around and accept Mike as his son-in-law.
Harrison starts several chapters with a litany of popular songs and events from Oklahoma City and around the world between 1958 and 1961, making for interesting reading.
Oklahoma nostalgia is included. The author says that in the '50s, “If you asked an Oklahoman to name the Holy Trinity, they would be apt to reply Bud Wilkinson, Tommy McDonald and Clendon Thomas,” a reference to figures of the University of Oklahoma Sooners' longest winning streak in college football history.
The author states the book is a novel but that parts are true. I hope the portrayal of Mike Fisher is true, as I see him as a hero. His patience and understanding keep a bad situation from turning ugly.
— Betty Lytle