This story is well-written, heartfelt, witty, sweet, and fun, but it still has a lot of substance. It explores the racism, classism, and homophobia surrounding the main character, but also includes much more joy and a feel-good uplifting ending!
I loved it.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
This is historical fiction set in San Francisco’s Chinatown about two 17-year-old women who fall in love. The story highlights early gay culture, but also what it was like to be Chinese American in that time period. It takes place in the 1950s so there is also overt racism, homophobia and sexism. It’s slow-paced, but so beautifully written. It’s hard to give a happy ending to gay people in the 1950s, but it is a hopeful one. I read this as an ebook but the audiobook is voiced by Emily Woo Zeller, who is a very good narrator.
The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes
This book had all of the ingredients of some of my favorite reads — it’s well written, and heartfelt, yet also really funny at times. The story includes meaningful commentary on racism, homophobia, family, religion, and immigration. It addresses some heavy topics, but they are also balanced by the main character’s snarky and funny inner monologues. Such a good book!
Music From Another World by Robin Talley
This is very good on audio, narrated by Jayme Mattler and Emily Lawrence. It’s about two high school girls in California back in 1977 who randomly get assigned a project to write letters back and forth to each other. One of the girls is gay and the other one has a gay brother. Their correspondence starts very superficially but gets more and more honest as they start to trust each other. The book gets better and better as the letters go on. Some of the letters are just so heartfelt.
As someone who lived through the 1970s, I thought the author did her research and really captured the political environment. The book also has a very uplifting ending! I loved it.
She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick
It’s written by two women who are married to each other! This book is super cute, fun, and adorable, but also has parts that are very heartfelt and emotional. I listened to the audiobook voiced by Natalie Naudus and Valentina Ortiz and they each did a great job with the narration. She Gets the Girl has a ton of heart, is great on audio, and is written by a wife/wife writing team!
The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
Nora (who is a 17 year old con artist), her current girlfriend Iris, and her ex boyfriend Wes are stuck in the middle of a bank robbery as hostages. The chapters then alternate between the events at the bank robbery and Nora’s con artist past. It’s such a smart page turner from start to finish.
The main characters are a found family of damaged people. They are all survivors of some type of trauma or abuse. The book though is really more about the amazing strength of these survivors than the power of the abusers. Much of the abuse which occurs is off page and there is enough heart and female badassery sprinkled throughout that it really is a fun read. I loved this book – it’s very well written and has such fierce women characters.
Crier’s War (Book #1) and Iron Heart (Book #2) by Nina Varela
This is a strong fantasy debut which highlights themes of privilege, oppression, cultural appropriation, and exploring humanity. The duology has good world-building, adventure, action, romance, politics, and some adorable banter.
The first book ends right smack in the middle of the story so you really need to read both in order to get the complete tale. It also includes an enemies-to-lovers slow-burn romance that is full of sapphic pining. The main characters’ love is forbidden in this world, but it’s not because they are queer. There is a great ending too!