Tag Archives: things in print thursday

Things in Print Thursday :: monthly big queer book review [Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit]

7 Sep

As I’ve mentioned before, my actual time in religion is past tense. My childhood was pretty traditional, although not really conservative; Methodists tend to be pretty moderate-to-lowkey-liberal. (For example, they’re perfectly fine with gay people existing and being in the church, but they’re not allowed to be clergy.) My Jesus phase in high school didn’t involve any conversion, but the nondenominational prayer group I was involved in was nonetheless hosted at a pretty modern Evangelical-type church that most of the kids attended, and that did color the meetings, be it with how people talked about God and religion, their tendencies to talk in tongues (which, as an outsider, is a very strange thing to witness, not bad but strange), or eventually the values they started to purport more openly, the values that led me to casually nope out of the group. After that I realized that more than having an actual religious experience during that time I was good at learning some of the language pretty fast, good at trying to frame things in a way that was more like the way the others were framing things because I was really thirsty for belonging or something. But even in high school, when I hadn’t realized a lot of things about myself (I hadn’t actually been given any mental health diagnoses yet, for example, and I still foolishly believed myself a heterosexual, probably), I knew I didn’t really belong in a group that had so many prohibitions against behavior and just being.

I have relatives who are more conservative Christians, among whom I’ve never felt comfortable, especially as I realized things about myself. But my more prominent “in” to the intersection of conservative Christianity and liberal (queer feminist) existence is my drift partner, who grew up in an environment much more like the one I had a few-months-long window to via my high school friends. Her being so much more heavily involved in that culture throughout her life has cast a different light on her liberal (queer feminist) existence nowadays, which largely is not mine to discuss, but I mention it because honestly, that was my primary motivation for getting into Georgia Peaches, which is about a very outspokenly Christian girl who also happens to be a lesbian. I wanted to better understand that apparent dichotomy.

(Mind, I don’t… not believe. In something. Maybe. It’s just hard for me to anything say with certainty and it’s hard for me to subscribe to religion outright. If you do believe in things for suresies that’s really cool! It’s just different than my experience.)

So the book itself is one of those pretty straightforward YA stories about an overly convoluted scheme. In this case, it’s that Jo, the daughter of a radio minister, has just moved to a new and more conservative small town from Atlanta and been asked, in the interest of keeping the peace with her new in-laws and community members, by said father (who is cool with her being a lesbian, but still) to play it straight for the duration of her senior year, after which she can do whatever she wants. There’s a little bit of back and forth, but after being promised the youth-focused radio show she’s been asking for (designed to talk about issues affecting Christian young people, including of course what it’s like to be gay in a society that doesn’t always accept the gay) and finding that her super-gay bestie from Atlanta encourages her to really live it up and go heterosexually undercover she agrees to go with it.

Of course, this is not as easy as it seems. She struggles to keep from saying anything when people around her act like bigots, the aforementioned best friend constantly ribs her about if she’s going to turn traitorously hetero (which kind of annoyed me, since it had been her suggestion that got Jo going with it in the first place, but I know people are like that; it was less a narrative annoyance and more of a people annoyance), and she falls for a girl from her stepmom’s Baptist church, a girl who seems straight.

You can probably figure out more or less what happens through the story. It’s not so much about that as it is about the people going through these kind of predictable things, though. Jo befriends her crush’s twin brother, who has an unspecified mental disability (the subject of multiple characters’ prejudices himself, although sometimes it’s outright and sometimes it’s more implicit) and is a very sweet and good person who’s pretty insightful about things, and Jo also befriends her crush’s friends, most of whom turn out to be pretty alright. Jo and her crush… well, they do pretty much what you expect.

Do I need to tell you that everything turns out alright in general, even though it seems like it might not? Probably not. This book wouldn’t work well if it didn’t have an uplifting ending, because the whole point of it is that it is possible to have faith and also queerness. It’s a little predictable but it’s sweet and very important, I think. That’s pretty obviously Jaye Robin Brown’s purpose in writing this, and I approve.

–your fangirl heroine.



Things in Print Thursday :: monthly big queer book review [Otherbound]

27 Jul

Jumping right into July’s big queer book since June’s entries were posted so late.

Otherbound is the first novel by Corinne Duyvis, author of my much-loved On the Edge of Gone. Corinne Duyvis is queer and autistic and runs Disability in Kidlit online, and as I knew from the other novel there is a significant commitment to diversity! I wasn’t sure how that was going to pan out in Otherbound because it’s largely in a fantasy setting (where diversity is always… interesting) but never fear, there’s plenty to be found.

There are two protagonists to this story, whose points of view alternate: Nolan, a Mexican-American teenage boy in present-day Arizona (his father and sister also study Nahuatl, a native Aztec language), and Amara, a teenage servant girl in the fantasy-world Dunelands. Nolan has the ability to slip into Amara’s world and consciousness, which everyone around him perceives as epileptic seizures, and he also uses a prosthetic after losing part of one of his legs in a “seizure”-related accident; Amara is a healing servant, which means that her magical ability to heal is exploited to aid the princess she serves (who suffers from a curse that makes her essentially able to be killed by the slightest injury, which is of itself a chronic problem), and like all servants in her world her tongue was cut because they’re not permitted to speak, which means she communicates in sign language. Additionally, the princess, Cilla, is explicitly characterized as being not a white person (the terms used are all fantastical because of the world, but she’d be played – hopefully – by a dark-skinned black girl in a screen adaptation) and a large number of the other characters are as well. So, A+ right out of the gate.

And much like the story deals with physical diversity without fussing (Nolan’s disabilities are prominent, but because they affect his life and his family, and Amara is consciously aware that she signs instead of speaking, but the only one to characterize them as DIsabled People is a villain) it also deals with the b-word. Bisexuality! I don’t actually remember if it says the word in the text of the novel but it did win an award for bisexual rep and that’s on the back cover, so there’s no denying it. Amara is attracted to both male and female characters, and though there is some contention given the individual characters, there’s none regarding her orientation; there are also no explicit love triangles, which is a relief.

The actual story is compelling; the Dunelands are, as could be expected, fraught with peril, and both Amara and Nolan-in-Amara have to navigate all manner of surprises. The few big plot reveals can’t be spoiled without, well, spoiling things entirely; what can be said is that the action is heavily focused on the second half of the story. In order to familiarize the reader with these parallel worlds, the first few chapters are very slice-of-life, which isn’t bad but bears mention. The magic is specific but not so complicated one can’t wrap one’s head around it, and the parameters of the universe are understandable once explained.

I will also say, though – I kept sort of expecting something gross to come of a teenage boy being sometimes in a teenage girl’s body. It didn’t, really. There’s mention of some voyeurism, which once she realizes Amara is understandably upset about, but the narrative is refreshingly respectful. (I’m sure this is because the author isn’t male; I’m not saying it’s impossible for men to write female protagonists but it is much more likely to get sketchy fast.)

Overall, a good go! I like Duyvis’ other work better, probably because I relate to it more closely, but this was very entertaining and in parts compelling enough that I abandoned my daily page limit to find out what happened next.

–your fangirl heroine.


Things in Print Thursday :: monthly big queer book review [DC Bombshells]

13 Jul

This is somewhat of a misnomer. I started reading DC Bombshells last year, after acquiring the first 12 issues in trades, but the third and fourth trades didn’t come out till this year. I am now through #24, and I know there’s mhttps://wordpress.com/post/partlydrawn.wordpress.com/15645ore to come but it’s not out in trade yet. And you guys, as I began saying last week…

I flipping love Bombshells.

The whole series is an alternate history version of WWII populated by… every woman in the DC universe, basically. The whole thing is based on this series of fancy statues and art that they made, and then someone, I guess, was like “can we actually play with this AU? Okay? Good let’s go.” It’s also an alternate history of the DC universe: Kate Kane, still a heiress and still the Batwoman, in fact saved the Waynes from the attempted robbery/murder. She’s a member of the women’s baseball league (see, bats – Bombshells Kate is also ridiculously quippy and occasionally makes comments like “I F&#(@* LOVE HOMONYMS”) who moonlights as a vigilante while the mens are away at the war, but then she’s recruited to the Bombshells – Amanda Waller’s all-female resistance fighter group working to help the Allies fight Nazis. And she’s with Maggie. Romantic styles.

This is enough to be awesome by itself. Check: one leading lesbian Jewish protagonist who will beat home the point that she’s fighting against people who discriminate against her own or anyone else. In a big ol’ lesbian relationship (and having previously been in one with Renee).

I’ll skim over the others, but the brilliance of Bombshells is largely twofold: it’s made international and it’s incredibly gay.

  • Maggie Sawyer herself is a police officer in Gotham, and she kicks ass. She also ends up kind of playing the housemother to the Batgirls (more on them in a bit). She misses her girlfriend (and there are plenty of panels of them being girlfriends – it’s beautiful) but she does what she does and she does it well.Amanda Waller masterminds the Bombshells. She’s pretty awesome.
  • Diana is still pretty much just Diana, doing her Themiscyran princess/Wonder Woman bit – just, this time it’s WWII instead of WWI. Steve Trevor is still there, and spends most of his time healing psychologically which is interesting… but Diana has previously had at least one explicit female paramour.
  • That’s Mera, aka Aquawoman, who is an exiled princess from Atlantis (this is eventually explained, and it’s very much the kind of royal family saga that you usually find about noble mystical princes) and learning important lessons and discovering herself and what it means to be a hero. But also she and Diana have kissed and been close and they flirt constantly.
  • Supergirl, who here is known in the human world as Kara Starikov, has all her usual powers and origin story but here she was adopted by a family in Russia. She’s grown up alongside her adoptive mother’s biological daughter…
  • That’s Kortni Duginovna, alias Stargirl. She wields a cosmic staff designed by her scientist father, wants nothing more than to save the world and be as super as her powered sister, and despite my never having even heard of her before reading Bombshells she touched my damn heart. Sister stuff, you guys!
  • Big Barda Free and Kimiyo Hoshi, alias Doctor Light, are other characters I’d never met before. They’re not in much of what’s been read, but they’re Bombshells and also they kiss.
  • Zatanna Zatara, half-Jewish and half-Roma, starts the story in Berlin as a captured plaything of Joker’s Daughter, who’s very much a mystical Nazi. This doesn’t sit well with her, and she fights back. John Constantine helps, when he’s not a bunny. She, of course, eventually finds the others and they all work together because this is a big pile of everyone working together and it’s beautiful.
  • Joker’s Daughter – whose actual connection to the actual Joker is as of #24 still somewhat unexplained, but whatever – is, as mentioned, a mystical Nazi. She is not a good person. She is probably the objectively worst female character, at least thus far, and she’s terrifying.
  • Harley Quinn, meanwhile, is a cheerful bisexual Jewish American psychiatrist working in London – until she sort of snaps and goes hunting for Mistah J, who she was previously entangled with. But on the way she encounters…
  • Pamela Ysley, a French smuggler of exotic goods and also a poisoner and genius botanist/etc. They flirt and fall in love, and at least as of #24 Harley has pretty well told the Joker(‘s spiritual essence, or something) to bugger off.
  • Selina Digatti is an Italian countess who starts out in Berlin. This aside, she’s pretty standard Catwoman, all potential double-crossing and flirting and kissing and sex eyes. She’s great.
  • Helena, aka Huntress, is a German swing kid. She and her buddies fight Nazis vigilante-style with weaponized instruments and snappy music. She also gets close, in a very familial way, with Kate.
  • The Batgirls are a bunch of plucky Gotham gals defending the city with vigilante justice in the style of Batwoman while Batwoman is away at war. Originally it was just Bette, her cousin, appointed with this task, but she wasn’t the only one with the idea (or the DIY skills, apparently) and by #24 their ranks also include: Alysia Yeoh, Harper and Cullen Row (there are boy Batgirls, yes), Kathy Duquesne, Felicity Smoak, Nell Little, and Tim Drake. Big diverse gay group of optimistic youths fighting crime. They also tangle with Harvey Dent, but that’s headed into spoilers.
  • Paula Von Gunther, Baroness, is also a Nazi. And evil. And in a probably-gay definitely-unhealthy relationship with the eventual Cheetah, but y’know.
  • Renee Montoya was raised in the Dominican Republic and then sent to Spain for university to avoid political turmoil in her homeland. There, she struck up a relationship with Kate, and they fought together in the Spanish Civil War – more painful backstory here, guys. She’s now a freedom fighter, alias the Question.
  • Rachel Roth aka Raven is pretty much a walking spoiler. But she’s here!
  • Killer Frost is German and also a Nazi. And for some reason boinking the Penguin? Shrug. Her outfit is very silly. She’s wearing an alpine sweater and an icicle hat.
  • Eloisa “Lois” Lane is from Metropolis but winds up in Gotham. She’s mixed, half-Cuban, and she’s the very definition of pluck. She’s headed off on adventures as of her last pre-#24 appearance, so I’m excited to see what’s up with that.
  • Miriam Batzel is a German-Jewish girl who, through the magic of how freaking awesome Jewish women are, becomes (DC’s) Ms. Marvel. She’s also basically adopted by Kate (even though she has her own family too).
  • Andrea Gruenwald does science and hates Nazis and Nazi sympathizers. Maybe she takes some dangerous courses of action to stop them, but oh well.
  • Mari McCabe is the queen of Zambesi. Alias Vixen, she can harness animal energy and powers. Also she beat Germans in the Olympics and stole Hitler’s dog and is very gay with…
  • Shiera, alias Hawkgirl (aided by Zambesi’s technology), a Mexican native who stumbled into the country and Mari’s lap pretty simultaneously. She hates using magic as an excuse, because SCIENCE!
  • Barbara Ann Minerva, who becomes Cheetah, is not a great person either. But she’s definitely present.
  • I’ve only met Barbara Gourdon, aka the Belle of the Bog, in a story of Harley’s so far. But what I’ve heard is coming is pretty wild. This is why she’s not in the Batgirl bunch.

There are a few boys here and there too, but really, the girls are why Bombshells is worth reading. I know more will appear in post-#24 issues, and I’m excited to meet all of them, but I’m also just so thrilled with all of the ones that are already populating the pages. The art is great – pin-up without being sleazy – and guys, there are so many queer women. Past or present there are textually nine different Sapphic relationships. Not all of them are healthy, but most of them are and they’re incredible.

There are so many meta jokes tossed in, ones you won’t expect; swings are taken at both general fascism and, shall we say, more current political awfulness. There are random discussions of important things thrown in the middle of stories (a favorite is when Alysia explains gender identity – hers, but also just in general – for a page between Batgirl fights) and diversity (I mean, it’s not perfect – but it’s clear that they were trying to improve on standard canon) and… you guys you just… need to discover this for yourselves. Marguerite Bennett is perfection.

–your fangirl heroine.


Things in Print Thursday :: monthly big queer book review [Batwoman]

6 Jul

I got ambitious for Pride month which is why I’m not posting anything till now when it’s already technically July. I blasted through issues 0-24 (collected in Hydrology, To Drown the World, World’s Finest, and This Blood is Thick) of J. H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman’s Batwoman run, plus caught up on DC Bombshells through its issue 24; I’m going to talk about the latter next week, all the issues, because I haven’t done that and it’s criminal because I adore DC Bombshells fiercely and not just because it’s the queerest comic series I’ve ever read.. This week I’m going to focus on just Batwoman, though.

A friend had me read Elegy years and years ago, sitting there on the Fourth of July waiting for fireworks to start in fact, and that was a headrush of a time. If I recall correctly, I was still very much a smol queer at the time (pretty sure that was the impetus for the friend lending Batwoman to me, even if it wasn’t phrased that way exclusively) and kind of getting a feel for Sapphic media consumption. (Consciously; this is laughable. If there was a woman who was any variety of not straight, I almost certainly “was” her.) I was also still new to superheroes; the MCU had kicked up in recent years, of course, which sent me into a tailspin of love for Black Widow especially, but I was a novice. I hadn’t really read any of the comics.

Batwoman seemed like a good place to start, though.

To this day, I have not actually read any DC properties that did not feature Batwoman; I just don’t have the energy. I’ve given enough of my energy to Marvel by now, for better-often-worse, and though I’m not picking up any of their titles at the moment because every single thing I was reading throughout the last two years has been cancelled [I have salt at the Marvel Comics people lately, but it’s the same salt everyone else has, more or less {#nickspencerishydra}] I have a lot more best girls in the universe. I really, really like a lot of the DC girls, as I’ll discuss when I get into Bombshells next week, but Kate Kane is so far my only best girl there.

As established in Elegy, which is a collection of the Detective Comics issues featuring the 21st century Batwoman, Kate Kane is kind of like Bruce Banner but better. They’re cousins, both Gotham-centric, they’re both from privileged socialite backgrounds, and they both have dead family in their backstory (Kate’s mom and twin sister). But Kate is also openly a lesbian (she was kicked out of military academy because of this) and a Jewish woman. And she’s just really, really cool.

The Batwoman series did run to issue 40, but I stopped at 24 because after that came a creative change which people say was a resounding disappointment (I’ll get to this in a minute). But 0-24 are dark and weirdly hopeful and good. As superhero stories go, they’re pretty straightforward and standard in their setup; Batwoman fights villains in Gotham, butts heads with the DEO, tangles with the police (including her girlfriend Maggie Sawyer, who does learn her identity), clashes with her father and erstwhile mentor, teams up with and then worries about her cousin Bette who is alias Flamebird, and so on and so on. It’s not so much the arcs that make this a notable comic as the little things, though.

For one: the Kate and Bette relationship just makes me really happy. Kate spends most of their time stressing out about Bette, worrying that she won’t be able to handle the vigilante life, and she’s not always the nicest to Bette, but they care about each other deeply and support each other and it’s just really nice when women support other women but especially in comics.

For another: World’s Finest features Batwoman teaming up with Wonder Woman to fight a particular villain. Superhero team-ups are pretty crucial to the mythology, but it still filled me with joy, especially since Batwoman is still rather a “fringe” superhero (especially to normals). They quipped and fought well together and generally were wonderful (and it felt much more real than certain DC cinematic meetings of late, sigh).

For the most: Kate and Maggie, Kate and Maggie. Kate and Maggie are beautiful. They have each other’s backs, they spend time together, they flirt and are cute and are sexy without being overly sexualized (well, as much as can be said of any comic with spandex involved). I think the most telling thing about their relationship is this: at one point Maggie gets hit with fear toxin, and it’s a traumatic and horrible thing and Kate feels responsible, so she then injects herself with the same fear toxin so she truly understands what Maggie went through. And then they snuggle all night. In issue #17 Kate proposes marriage to Maggie, and it’s wonderful, and they’re going to move in together, and then… DC told the writers they couldn’t let them get married. Apparently nobody in DC can get married because then the heroes would be too happy, or something. (I hear tell that Batman recently proposed to Catwoman, though, so…) That’s why they left the series, and why I stopped reading where I did. As far as I’m concerned they got cancelled because they were going to have happy lesbians, and Kate and Maggie are still very happy together, somewhere that isn’t there.

These issues don’t exist in a bubble. A lot of what had been established in Elegy and presumably other comics between them (that I haven’t read and fully intend to) does carry through, including emotional motivations and points of angst. But you don’t have to have read those to be able to pick it up, either, it’s just mostly a point of consistency that I appreciate.

Overall: yes good. And I am so excited about freaking out about Bombshells on y’all.

–your fangirl heroine.

Things in Print Thursday :: monthly big queer book review [This Is Where It Ends]

18 May

So. I called the unpleasant ~surprise of this one pretty early on, and part of me wishes it hadn’t been there because it could have been avoided, but given the cast of characters and what they were capable of it made sense. I didn’t like it, but it made sense. My only real complaint is that it wasn’t fully dealt with, that is, it didn’t have all of the effects it could have and went largely unknown by most of the cast, and that’s something I also get but I kind of wish it had been different. But oh well.

Overall, this was a good book. I wanted to get that first bit out of the way, but it wasn’t enough to seriously detract from my enjoyment of the story. Enjoyment is the wrong word when you’re talking about a book that deals with school shootings and all sorts of auxiliary terrible things, but still. Whatever the equivalent. I’m glad I read it, and it was an important and interesting story.

Because even for the thing I was vaguely referring to in the first paragraph, or the fact that it’s about a school shooting, or the auxiliary terrible things that happen surrounding the events of the actual story (told in real-time, as it were, with shifting POVs and social media interjections – an effective way of keeping up the intensity and breathlessness and frantic pace of what was going on) the thing is… yes. All of that is bad. But it happens. It happens, and people still have to face those things, and it’s ultimately a story not about those things but about how they shape people and how people fight through and heal. And that’s what matters most, I think.

There are parts that were a little uneven, I think; a lot of the stuff with Claire, the track star-slash-shooter’s ex, didn’t feel entirely developed, like you’d gone from a to c without fully explaining b, and some of the drama between the Sylv and Autumn, or Sylv and Tomas, went in vague circles. (Also, it’s none of my business but what is it with characters in these YA books going by nicknames that awkwardly chop their two-syllable name into one syllable that ends with a v. Far From You had Trev, which made me angry. Sylv is a little better, but – I don’t know, it just feels abrupt. This is a weird etymological pet peeve of mine I guess. It’s not a flaw in the writing. Just my brain being odd.)

But ultimately, the pacing is really unique and the subject matter is important and Sylv and Autumn are very good Sapphic girls and I just wanted them to be happy. And Claire’s heterosexuality wasn’t even particularly cringeworthy, so good job, Marieke Nijkamp. (Sidenote: I also adore your first name, Marieke Nijkamp. That’s just really pretty.)

–your fangirl heroine.


Things in Print Thursday :: monthly big queer book review [Girl Mans Up]

27 Apr

So I think my biggest takeaway from this novel is: wow, man, toxic masculinity is the worst. But there’s a lot more to it, too.

This is a book about Pen, a rather tomboyish, butch enough to be androgynous girl who’s spent her whole life being friends with boys and getting both treated like a boy and asked if she wants to be a boy.  To complicate matters, she comes from a traditional Portuguese family keen on their own idea of respect, which doesn’t include dressing like her brother. And, thank goodness, she’s queer. (There are too many stories, in my opinion, that rely on the “so what if I’m butch, I really do like boys!” trope, I suppose in an attempt not to seem “stereotypical.” I’m sure there are butch girls who like boys. I’m not disputing that. But there are also butch girls who like girls, and that’s what I want to read about.) She doesn’t really stick to one label to describe her own sexuality, but queer is the closest; in any event, she’s interested in dating and having sexual relations with girls. In this way it’s a fairly standard coming-of-age story, but a well-drawn one.

There are also a lot of situations surrounding gender politics, which – okay, well, obviously, but it’s still really interesting. More than once Pen is asked if she’s trans, at least once by someone entirely well-meaning and understanding, but she states repeatedly that she’s a girl. She’s just a girl who likes “boy things,” aesthetically and recreationally. Her sexuality is often interpreted by others as being a part of this – i.e. she dresses like a boy because she wants romance with girls – but she also states that the two things are unrelated. They just are. She also debates with herself about relationship terminology, about how she wants to be her girlfriend’s boyfriend and things like that, which is something I can guarantee you wouldn’t have been reading ten years ago but I’m sure it’s something some people have to think about.  This sort of internal monologue regarding gender fluidity isn’t something you hear in stories very often, but it’s also interesting to me personally because I’m nowhere near butch myself and these are things I never really had to think about in my own coming-of-age. It’s important to have different perspectives than your own, even about something you’re still pretty close to.

I was also sort of delighted that the process of her being interested in and dating a girl was relatively drama-free, or better put the drama involved very decidedly did not involve the girlfriend, Blake, having a crisis of sexuality. Those are legitimate, and it’s good to have them reflected in media, I’m not saying it’s not, but I also really appreciate when the parties in question are both comfortable from the get-go because that happens too. Not every queer story is a coming-out story.

I also appreciated that a lot of the conflicts in the story were resolved but not perfectly, because, again, that’s how life often is. Pen is happy at the end of the story, but it’s not like everything magically resolved.

But, in addition to the family conflicts and gender conflicts mentioned above, the other main source of tension throughout the narrative is Pen’s relationship with her guy friends, primarily the ringleader, Colby. He looks out for her in some ways at the beginning of the book, but not very well, and he honestly struck me as a grade-A douche from the beginning because he makes all of his friends do things for him as a show of “loyalty.” I kept thinking, the way he was talking, that they were going to turn out to be in some kind of gang, but no. He’s just a womanizing douche who basically turns on her the minute she starts to go against his make-believe code.

And this is where the toxic masculinity bit comes in. Because she wants to play with the boys, she has to go by their bro code. She’s constantly framing things in ways that I’d cringe at if she was actually a guy, using terms that often make me uncomfortable. She’s got this programming that being one of the guys involves being, honestly, kind of a jerk, which is in part because of Colby’s bullshit “loyalty” thing and in part because, honestly, a lot of guys are kind of gross. Her older brother isn’t gross, though! He is part of the very positive influence in her life to unlearn bad behavior and he’s very supportive.

All in all, I’m very impressed, and I feel like I learned a thing or two along the way.

–your fangirl heroine.


Things in Print Thursday :: monthly big queer book review [Far From You]

30 Mar

This novel, by Tess Sharpe, is about a young bisexual girl, Sophie, and it actually says the b-word. This is the most remarkable thing about this book, honestly. The narrator says “I’m bisexual” and not just in her own internal monologue. Another thing I appreciated – and this is not to say that it’s not entirely valid when a bisexual character, in the present tense of a narrative, is attracted to both men and women, because it is legitimate – is that although the narrator is in fact bisexual her present tense attraction, the only attraction she says has ever meant anything, is toward a girl, her recently dead best friend Mina.

Because here’s the thing. It’s important to acknowledge that someone can in fact be bisexual, self-proclaimed and genuinely attracted to “both” (assuming the gender binary, which is false, but Sophie does say she’s attracted to both boys and girls, so in her case that’s the bisexual that applies), but can either prefer one or the other or have a more serious connection with one or the other. Sophie mentions past hookups with boys, but she says out loud that it’s always been Mina that she loves, and though Mina is dead by the time the book starts this doesn’t change. Her bisexuality doesn’t mean that she’s susceptible to the obvious male option for a counterpart. It’s not a way of saying “I loved a girl in the past, but now I’ll replace her with a guy because lol I’m bisexual and I want everyone.” She doesn’t want everyone. She merely acknowledges the possibility of wanting more than one gender of someone.

The end of the book leaves it open: she could eventually fall in love again, with a boy or a girl, but not with any of the boys or girls that have previously been presented. Her options are open, not filled in an easy way. I feel like that doesn’t always happen, and it was nice.

The actual content of the book, aside from the sexuality (not crisis, but conflict of sorts), deals mainly with two things: Sophie recounting the aftermath of a car accident she was in years before that not only permanently injured but set her up for an addiction to painkillers that she ultimately had to kick, and Sophie recounting the aftermath of Mina’s murder and her own involvement, how the former things affected the situation, and how she set out to solve the crime. Drift partner warned me that the twist ending of the book might be a little obvious, but it’s not so much about the mystery as it is about the journey to get there, I don’t think. (I was also oblivious to the clues that would make it obvious because there were a good three or four characters I kept forgetting about and then having to remember which one they were.)

Anyway. There’s sexuality stuff, there’s physical disability stuff which is always interesting to me because of my own long-past traumatic experiences (and also because the disability here was similar to Lily’s from last month’s read, As I Descended, though Lily took the exact opposite view of painkillers), there’s addiction stuff, there’s mystery stuff. It’s an interesting read, although not exactly standout in any particular way.

–your fangirl heroine.