My thoughts on the LGBTQ books I’ve read in the past week. All titles are linked to their Goodreads page.
Between March 14th and 20th, I read:
Blood Binds the Pack by Alex Wells (2018)
Queer rep: Several secondary characters are gay, lesbian, or bi; one is implied to be trans
Thoughts: This is book two of the Hob duology. Either the queerness was absent in the first book or I didn’t pick up on it, but it’s made quite clear in this one. I thought this one was also stronger than the first in terms of plot and pacing and characterization – not that book one was bad, by any means, but this one was better and a satisfying conclusion to the story. My one complaint about it is that Hob is missing her left eye in the book but the cover illustration has the eye-patch on her right eye!
The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde (2014)
Queer rep: One POV character is a married lesbian
Thoughts: I liked this a lot; it’s a family drama – married lesbians and their foster children move to a new town and immediately get on the wrong side of their crochety neighbor due to her neglected horse. Some of what’s going to happen is obvious, but even so the writing made everything feel fresh. I also liked that the ending is not overly pat, although it is satisfying.
Dalí by E.M. Hammill (2017)
Queer rep: The MC is genderfluid and bi/pansexual; a number of secondary characters are genderfluid, intersex, or gay/bi/lesbian.
Thoughts: I really liked the world-building in this one, and I loved reading a book where several characters use they/them pronouns and it’s just completely accepted as a matter of course. I was a little thrown off by the early sex scenes (the back copy mentions “danger, sex, and intrigue” but I somehow glossed over that when deciding to pick up the book) but they in no way overwhelmed the plot, which was very well-done.
On the Right Track by Sam Kadence (2013)
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: Both MCs are gay
Thoughts: I didn’t have high expectations for this book; the premise – closeted high schooler meets recently outed boy band member now trying to lie low – seemed ripe for tropes. However, this was surprisingly enjoyable. It was a nice light read for the most part and I liked how it casually worked in references to real LGBTQ youth support services and hotlines without becoming overly preachy.
The Beauty that Remains by Ashley Woodfolk (2018)
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: One of the POV characters is gay; a couple of secondary characters are gay/lesbian/bi
Thoughts: Not surprisingly, given this was a book dealing with three bereaved teenagers, this was somewhat depressing. But ultimately hopeful! The writing was good and it was easy to tell the three POV characters apart – each had their own distinct voice. Also, the cover is beautiful.
Angry Management by Chris Crutcher (2009)
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: There are two gay and two lesbian secondary characters in the first novella; one of the POV characters in the third novella is gay
Thoughts: I loved Chris Crutcher’s books when I was a teenager and I read every single one multiple times. This, however, was a big disappointment. Partly it was the novella format, I think; the first two focused on characters from some of his novels, and I felt they were shallow because the expectation was that we already knew those people. The third novella, with new characters, was better, but loses huge points for “bury your gays”. Also, the conceit here is that all the characters across the novellas are tied together by being in Mr. Nak’s “angry management” group. I was excited by that because I really loved Ironman, where Mr. Nak and his group originated. But none of the novellas included any participation in the group or interaction with the characters from the other novellas; there was a little intro from Mr. Nak’s perspective and then at the start of each novella were his thoughts on each character’s reasons for being in the group, supports, and prognosis, and that was it. It felt unnecessary. This could’ve been just three novellas without that lazy attempt to connect them.
Blood Stained Tea by Amy Tasukada (2016)
Queer rep: One MC is gay and the other is implied to be bi
Thoughts: I beta-read the first few chapters of this several years ago and remembered liking them, so when this popped up as a free Kindle deal I decided to finish the story. It’s not my usual genre – crime/thriller dealing with the Japanese mob – but I was drawn in by the characters, Nao and Saehyun. I enjoyed this one right up until the end; no spoilers, but I strongly disliked the ending! I was actually hoping one scene would turn out to be a dream sequence, but no, it actually happened. The ending worked for the book – it made sense – but it didn’t work for me at all.