Bite-sized reviews of the LGBTQ books I’ve read in the past week. All titles are linked to their Goodreads page.
Between March 3rd and 9th, I read:
My Policeman by Bethan Roberts (2012)
Genre: historical fiction
Queer rep: One POV character and the most important secondary character are gay
Thoughts: In 1960s Brighton, Marion falls for Tom – her best friend’s brother – at first sight. While he goes off to National Service and she goes to teacher training, she tends to her flame, and when they reconnect upon his return home to be a policeman, she sets herself to win him. It’s not Marion’s affection that Tom returns, though; it’s Patrick’s. A curator at the Brighton Museum, Patrick met Tom by chance and was captivated. But at a time when Tom and Patrick’s relationship was illegal, the safe thing is for Tom to marry Marion. Marion and Patrick exist in a delicate balance, with Tom as the pivot, until one of them can’t, and three lives are shattered. This is told in Patrick and Marion’s alternating POVs, and I thought it suffered a bit from that because frankly nothing about Tom seemed worth one person, let alone two, falling madly in love and destroying themselves over him. It’s also quite grim, with Patrick especially just suffering endlessly throughout.
Barn 8 by Deb Olin Unferth (2020)
Queer rep: One POV character is bi, one is gay, a few queer secondary and minor characters
Thoughts: Cleveland is a senior auditor for the U.S. egg industry, who is deeply committed to her job but frustrated that her suggested improvements are constantly ignored. When Janey, a spirited but struggling junior auditor, joins Cleveland’s team, the pair go rogue and begin stealing hens. The first theft is almost accidental, but it ramps up until they’re hatching an audacious plan to empty an entire egg farm – one million chickens. They can’t do it alone, and an eclectic group of people assemble for the biggest chicken heist ever. Then the catastrophes start, and snowball the same way the thefts did. This is a deeply strange, but very engaging, story. The cast is so fascinating, and I wanted to know more about every one of them, even the ones only mentioned in passing.
Thirsty Mermaids by Kat Leyh (2021)
Genre: fantasy/graphic novel
Queer rep: The MCs seem queer; secondary characters include a trans woman and a nonbinary person
Thoughts: I picked this up because I loved Leyh’s YA graphic novel Snapdragon so much, and let me warn anyone doing the same thing that this is very different. But still very good! I wasn’t sure how I felt for the first few pages, but it quickly grew on me. Three mermaids, an outcast pod, find a shipwreck full of human booze and quickly get drunk. With the shipwreck wine all gone, they hatch a tipsy plan to turn human, go on land, and keep drinking. After a wild time at a local seaside tourist trap, they wake up with killer hangovers and the abrupt realization that they don’t know how to break the spell. Stuck on land with no knowledge of human culture, nowhere to stay, no money (or understanding of what money is), they embark on a series of misadventures trying to pass as human while also trying to get back to the sea. This is very funny and also has a lot of deep undercurrents about friendship, survival, and shared humanity.
You First by J.C. Lillis (2019)
Queer rep: The MC is bi, the LI is gay, several gay, bi, and lesbian secondary characters
Thoughts: Levon is a Level-D superhero: he can talk to animals, but only nuisance species (rats, deer, pigeons, roaches) and not that well. When he meets Jay at college, he finds a kindred spirit: a Level-D (Jay can manipulate and freeze water, but only 32 ounces at a time) who’s happy to be average. They bond over their not-so-powerful powers and pledge to be content with quiet, safe lives in Levon’s hometown. But thirteen years later, Jay’s been secretly training and has leveled up his powers, leading to him being headhunted for a prestigious super job three thousand miles away. Levon doesn’t want to lose Jay, so with the advice of some nosy animals and unexpected human mentors, he tries to boost his own powers so he won’t be left behind. But is leveling up what he really wants? Will it even save their relationship? Should they try to save it, or is it better to grow apart? This is a bittersweet story and my reaction can basically be summed up as “ow, my feelings”. I liked this a lot though! And there will be a sequel at some point, which I’m looking forward to.