Earth as It Is

Jan Maher (Author)


It's the 1930s in Texas when Charlie Bader comes of age with urges he has struggled with since childhood and does not understand. After his new bride finds him wearing her own sexy lingerie and leaves him in disgust, he tries to move on. His efforts lead him to Chicago, where he stumbles on a community of cross-dressers and begins to attend their secret soirees. When Pearl Harbor is bombed, he volunteers for the army, serving as a dentist and trying once again to leave his obsession with soft clothes behind. Instead, his wartime experiences combined with the army's faulty record-keeping lead to his reappearance in the small town of Heaven, Indiana, as Charlene. There, Charlene opens a beauty shop where Heaven's women safely share their stories and secrets as she shampoos, clips, curls, and combs their hair. Charlene deftly manages to keep her own story hidden and her sexual desires quiet until she falls in love with a female customer and her life begins to change.

Product Details

$20.00  $18.40
Break Away Book Club Edition
Publish Date
January 23, 2017
5.25 X 0.62 X 8.0 inches | 0.7 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Jan Maher is a senior scholar at the Institute for Ethics in Public Life, SUNY Plattsburgh.


"A small-town hairdresser is not quite what she seems in this novel of life under cover.... In Maher's tapestry, the unconventional, even subversive, impulses of misfits and "ordinary" folk find a place in a convincing whole."

--Kirkus Reviews

"Maher's understated style of character development reveals a rich understanding of her characters and their decisions."

--The Islands' Weekly

"The story is an unusual one, featuring a condition usually ignored in fiction. Deserves a place on library shelves."


"A complex and deeply emotional novel which explores a rarely discussed aspect of gender identity in the post-war Midwest.... A captivating novel that attempts to bring a softer perspective to gender identity. It is definitelyworth reading."

--Historical Novel Society

"Jan Maher's Earth As It Is is a heartfelt story about an extraordinary life.... Both loving and heartbreaking, Earth As It Is lends a new perspective to an ongoing dialogue."

--ForeWord Reviews

"Maher's debut is a satisfyingly complex character study exploring gender identity in the postwar Midwest.... Maher deftly navigates Charlie/Charlene's dual identities and vividly captures a complex inner struggle... the story is transportive."

--Publishers Weekly


"In Maher's tapestry, the unconventional, even subversive, impulses of misfits and "ordinary" folk find a place in a convincing whole. A quietly luminous tale of folksy gender-bending that's entertaining and authentic."

"--Kirkus Review


A superbly crafted novel by an exceptionally skillful storyteller, Earth As It Is reveals author Jan Maher's genuine flair for a fully engaging originality.

"--Midwest Book Review