Bite-sized reviews of the LGBTQ books I’ve read in the past week. All titles are linked to their Goodreads page.
Between January 20th and 26th, I read:
We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding (2020)
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: One of the two POV characters is bi, f/f relationship
Thoughts: Kat and James have been best friends since they were paired up at their kindergarten graduation ceremony. The two girls are still inseparable as they enter their senior year of high school, but by the end of it, they’re no longer friends. James’ POV starts at senior graduation, with their friendship gone, and works back in time to the start of the year before they fell apart, while Kat’s POV follows the more traditional timeline. It sounds confusing but in practice it really isn’t. It does, however, make for a harrowing emotional read. Reading Kat’s first few chapters are like watching the start of a horror movie, when the characters are blissfully happy and unaware of the tragedy the audience knows is about to strike them. Is there anything more miserable and misunderstood than breaking up with your best friend? This is a wonderful, sad, cathartic read.
Ghosted in L.A., Vols. 1-3 by Sina Grace, Siobhan Keenan, Cathy Le (2019-2020)
Genre: paranormal/graphic novel
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC is bi/pan, multiple queer secondary characters, m/m and f/f relationships
Thoughts: Daphne Walters follows her boyfriend cross-country to college in Los Angeles, where he immediately breaks up with and ghosts her. While wandering LA in a bid to escape her memories of Ronnie and get away from her terrible roommate, Daphne stumbles across a haunted mansion. The ghosts of Rycroft Manor are (mostly) friendly, and allow Daphne to live in the manor in exchange for running errands that require the corporeality of the living. Daphne befriends the ghosts and begins to feel like she belongs in LA after all, but the more involved she gets, the more questions she has about the ghosts, their powers, what drew them to Rycroft Manor – and what’s keeping them there. This is a fun series, and it’s complete in the three volumes. There were a few loose ends (I still don’t entirely get the subplot with her roommate) but overall I enjoyed this. It’s basically a coming-of-age story with bonus ghosts, what’s not to like?
The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation by Jodie Patterson (2019)
Queer rep: Patterson’s third child is transgender
Thoughts: In this memoir, Patterson reflects on her life and family through the lenses of identity, gender, and race. From the subtitle, back copy, and featured reviews, I was expecting this to be mostly about her transgender son and the way her family transformed around Penelope’s declaration of self. But really it’s much broader than that, and is more about gender and gender roles throughout Patterson’s life, from her childhood and the dynamics between her parents and the gender roles and gender expectations she and her sister were raised with, right up through the dynamics between Patterson and her partners and their own parenting styles. All of that is tightly interwoven with how race and gender intersect, and how Patterson always drew strength from her heritage as a Black woman and the culture her mother, grandmothers, and aunts passed down to her and that she endeavored to pass down to her own first-born daughter, how to be bold in a world that rejects bold women and especially bold Black women. It’s a fascinating memoir, although not exactly what I was expecting. I saw that Patterson has a picture book coming out in a few months, Born Ready, which is all Penelope’s story, and I plan to pick that up as well.
Gender Diversity and Non-Binary Inclusion in the Workplace: The Essential Guide for Employers by Sarah Gibson, J. Fernandez (2018)
Queer rep: focuses on non-binary people
Thoughts: This focuses on the UK and the legal framework set up around trans and nonbinary rights in the UK, so how useful it is will vary for anyone outside of the UK. In the US, there are very few federal protections and the rights of nonbinary and transgender employees vary greatly on a state-by-state basis. It’s a basic introduction to what nonbinary identities are, what workplace protections do and should exist, simple steps to be more inclusive, and why inclusion is important. The statistics throughout were particularly interesting to me, since I’m rather data-minded, and I’d be interested to see more of the research and surveys used.
Taking the Lane #15: True Trans Bike Rebel by Lydia Rogue (ed.) (2018)
Queer rep: By and about trans and nonbinary cyclists
Thoughts: Taking the Lane is a feminist bike zine, and this issue is guest edited and all about transgender and nonbinary people and their relationship with cycling. It consists of 13 personal essays and one comic and titles include “Everything I Needed to Know About Beings Trans I Learned on the Pan-American Highway”, “Build Your Own Body”, and “Putting the Trans in Transportation”. I’m not a cyclist myself, but no insider knowledge is needed to appreciate these essays. The writing styles varied a lot but they were uniformly engaging and thought-provoking (and also made me want to get on a bike).
If you enjoyed this post, please consider tipping me on Ko-Fi!