Rainbow Reading: February 17

Bite-sized reviews of the LGBTQ books I’ve read in the past week. All titles are linked to their Goodreads page.

Between February 10th and 16th, I read:

cover images of BE GAY, DO COMICS; CRY WOLF; LIVED EXPERIENCE; OUR SUBWAY BABY; and THE DEEPEST BREATH

Be Gay, Do Comics by Matt Bors et al. (2020)
Genre: comic anthology, mixed genres
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: varies by comic, covers most of the LGBTQ spectrum
Thoughts: This is a collection of queer history, memoir, and satire comics from The Nib, featuring more than 30 cartoonists and a wide range of topics. Some of the comics I’d seen before around the internet, although the majority were new to me. I particularly enjoyed the historical ones, which mostly covered people or events I was unfamiliar with (such as Gad Beck, a gay Jewish man who fought Nazis, or the sexuality of Baron von Steuben, the “American Revolution’s Greatest Leader”). There’s definitely something in here for everyone, with the flipside of that being there is going to be something not for everyone as well. (I personally didn’t like the art style of a recurring contributor, even though I liked the content of those comics). But it’s worth the read for sure.

Cry Wolf by Charlie Adhara (2021)
Genre: paranormal/mystery/romance
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The MC and LI are gay; several queer secondary characters
Thoughts: This is book 5 in the Big Bad Wolf series, which centers around Agent Cooper Dayton and his partner, werewolf Oliver Park. I really enjoy this series, which does a great job of balancing individual compelling cases with the development and deepening of the big mysteries underpinning everything. I also enjoy how Adhara adds to and deepens Cooper and Park’s relationship in each book, rather than coasting along on what’s been established or introducing needless conflicts to “keep things interesting”. In this installment, an old adversary returns with a vague warning of a coming threat, which comes just as Cooper is in the midst of wedding-planning stress. As he’s looking toward the future, more people (and wolves) from the past pop out of the woodwork, like Park’s ex and Cooper’s first partner from his FBI days. It doesn’t take long for bodies to start piling up, either, and the suspect list is getting longer and more confused by the minute. I actually managed to figure out part of the mystery before the reveal, which almost never happens, but although I managed part of the “who”, I didn’t figure out all the motivations…which are definitely setting things up nicely for a book six. (I’d read somewhere that this was the finale but that doesn’t seem to be true…I’m hoping it’s not, because as I said, I really enjoy this series).

Lived Experience: Reflections on LGBTQ Life by Delphine Diallo (2020)
Genre: nonfiction/photography
Audience: adult
Queer rep: Mostly gay and lesbian, some trans and non-binary people
Thoughts: This entry in the the Arcus Foundation and EWS’ LGBTQ photography book series focuses on the lives and memories of 50 LGBTQ people over 50 – interviewed on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Each full color portrait is paired with each person’s reflections on their own life and experiences, and/or the broader context of the LGBTQ movement. I do love this series, and books about older/elder queer people that show them surviving, thriving, living, existing (this put me in mind of To Survive on This Shore, which I love love love). Lovely photography, moving reflections.

Our Subway Baby by Peter Mercurio, illustrated by Leo Espinosa (2020)
Genre: picture book
Audience: juvenile
Queer rep: A gay couple
Thoughts: This picture book tells the true story of how Pete’s partner, Danny, discovered a newborn baby left in the corner of a subway station, and the pair’s subsequent adoption of baby Kevin. It’s written as if Pete is talking directly to Kevin – “Danny was riding the subway home. On his way out of the station, he saw something tucked away in the corner. At first it looked like a doll. But it wasn’t. It was you.” – and that makes it an especially sweet book. I love the illustrations too. I also liked how straightforward the story is; of course picture book are simplified, but for instance when the family court judge asks Danny if he’d be interested in adopting he says, “I know adopting a baby isn’t always easy for two dads” and the judge simply says, “It can be” and the story proceeds without any digression about why it might not be easy (this was in 2000, when there were more barriers to gay adoption). The author’s note at the end says that when Pete and Danny got married in 2012, it was Kevin’s idea to ask that same judge to perform the marriage! A lovely story all around.

The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan (2021)
Genre: fiction/novel-in-verse
Audience: middle grade
Queer rep: The MC is sapphic
Thoughts: This was published in Ireland in 2019 and I have been waiting ever since for it to arrive in the U.S. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it and I enjoyed Grehan’s other novel-in-verse (for adults), so I’m pleased to report it was worth the wait! Eleven-year-old Stevie loves reading and facts; knowing things makes her feel secure and confident. Not knowing things can be scary. Like, what does it mean when her insides get fizzy around her classmate Chloe? It’s a new feeling and one she doesn’t understand, and Stevie doesn’t like not understanding. This isn’t something in her books, and she’s shy about asking her mum, even though they talk about everything. When she tries, it doesn’t seem to come out right. A quiet coming-of-age story that gets bonus points for the helpful librarian 🙂

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