Bite-sized reviews of the LGBTQ books I’ve read in the past week. All titles are linked to their Goodreads page.
Between November 27th and December 3rd, I read:
A People’s History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian (2019)
Queer rep: One of the ensemble main cast is transgender, another is queer; two minor characters are gay and one is lesbian
Thoughts: This was a beautiful book. It tells the story of a tight-knit community in the Bangalore slum called Heaven by focusing on the stories of five girls coming of age and their immediate families and neighbors. Our unnamed narrator weaves all the individual stories together to make a striking and complex whole. I loved everything about this book; the writing is so evocative, and the setting is described so vividly I could really see and hear and feel everything about it. Each character is wonderfully developed and so real. This was a real joy to read. Definitely a favorite.
The Last Hope by Krista & Becca Ritchie (2019)
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: Two of the POV characters are gay
Thoughts: This is the sequel to The Raging Ones and the conclusion of the duology. I didn’t like this one as much as the first book; there’s a twist ending at the end of that, and this one focuses on the aftermath of that twist. I just didn’t find it as engaging, and then there was another twist that I thought was too much of a coincidence/stretch/deus ex machina… It was fine overall, but it did not blow me away.
Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki (2016)
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC has two moms and her best friend is gay
Thoughts: This has perhaps the best true-to-life portrayal of a teenager I’ve read this year: Monty is frustrated, angry, self-centered, and not that easy to like – but she feels everything so strongly and is trying so hard that you can’t help but root for her even when you also want to sit her down and give her a stern lecture. The story centers around a crystal amulet Monty buys online and the bad things that start happening to the people Monty despises when she wears the amulet. Is it a coincidence or does the Eye of Know really have powers? Can Monty use those powers to protect her family when an anti-gay preacher moves into town, or will those powers backfire and alienate Monty’s friends?
The Way of Thorn and Thunder by Daniel Heath Justice (2011)
Queer rep: Several members of the ensemble main cast are queer; culturally recognized third gender (zhe/hir pronouns)
Thoughts: I did not like this at all. It has great ratings on GoodReads but I could not get into it. It’s high fantasy set in a world similar to an alternate 18th century North America, and the plot centers around humans trying to evict the natives of the Everland, with clear parallels to the Trail of Tears and the other atrocities Americans and Europeans carried out against indigenous populations. The writing style is very ornate and I was bored by it, and there are a huge number of characters to keep track of, and it never stops introducing more. This is 588 pages, not counting the glossary, etc. and there were new characters showing up 518+ pages in. I found it a very frustrating reading experience, but I am in the extreme minority of reviewers.
The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg (2016)
Genre: fantasy/graphic novel
Audience: adult with YA appeal
Queer rep: The two MCs are lesbian
Thoughts: I liked this a lot. It’s set in the world of Early Earth, which Greenberg has another graphic novel about, and tells the story of two women in love. In the tradition of The Arabian Nights, Hero has to tell a story every night to distract the wicked Manfred, who is trying to seduce Hero’s love, Cherry, to win a diabolical wager. The narrative moves back and forth from Hero’s stories to the lives of Hero, Cherry, and Manfred the rest of the time, and then to what happens when the hundred nights are up. I really enjoyed all of the stories and this is a large graphic novel which allows for a lot of detail in the illustrations (although it also makes it a little hard to hold on to; I may or may not have accidentally dropped it on my cat…twice…while reading). I liked this a lot and I’ve put a hold on Greenberg’s other Early Earth graphic novel.