The Lost Coast

Author: Amy Rose Capetta

Published: May 14, 2019

Publisher: Candlewick

Where I picked up my book: Free from the publisher via NetGalley-THANK YOU! (this does not influence my options at all)

Key Words: Queer, witches, fantasy, YA, magical

My Rating: 5

The Lost Coast bookishfolk

Synopsis (via Candlewick Press website):

Danny didn’t know what she was looking for when she and her mother spread out a map of the United States and Danny put her finger down on Tempest, California. What she finds are the Grays: a group of friends who throw around terms like queer and witch like they’re ordinary and everyday, though they feel like an earthquake to Danny. But Danny didn’t just find the Grays. They cast a spell that calls her halfway across the country, because she has something they need: she can bring back Imogen, the most powerful of the Grays, missing since the summer night she wandered into the woods alone. But before Danny can find Imogen, she finds a dead boy with a redwood branch through his heart. Something is very wrong amid the trees and fog of the Lost Coast, and whatever it is, it can kill. Lush, eerie, and imaginative, Amy Rose Capetta’s tale overflows with the perils and power of discovery — and what it means to find your home, yourself, and your way forward.

My Thoughts:

Oh I really, REALLY loved this book. Witches, unapologetic queers, beautiful scenery, outsiders that stick together, a diverse group of friends, feminism and imperfectly perfect characters are just the beginning of why I loved this book so much. Let me break down my love a little bit more.

First, growing up, I didn’t get to see characters like these in books, or movies, or in real-life either, if I’m being perfectly honest. People that are unapologetically being themselves-whether that entails the color of their skin, their culture, their sexuality, what they like or how they like it, how they identify, or a combo of all of the above. I wasn’t seeing that anywhere. Here it is though! These characters showed us what it’s like to be different from mainstream culture and then how to embrace those differences. I found myself fist pumping for each of them every step of the way. They are the ones we all aspire to be. And after reading the author’s notes at the end where she made mention of this book being for those different ones, those who don’t know where they fit and those who live in places where being different is hard, it really solidified my thoughts. Basically, she wrote this book for the magical ones and I’m forever here for anything like that! I hope this one gets into the hands of as many young people as possible so they all know just how magical they really are.

Second, the scenery descriptions in this book were everything. I lived for a year in San Francisco and I remember those majestic redwoods and their smells and the fog surrounding life at times and it was all brought back to me through Capetta’s words. I could smell the woods, feel the fog on my face and walk in the soft earth below the trees. The writing alone in this book felt magical to me. Trees are truly my love language and right from the beginning, I knew I was set up to LOVE this book.

Third, the queer witch talk. Let me repeat…so much amazing, carefully crafted, inspiring, exciting queer witch talk. And I’m in for all of it! I’ve always thought of queers as a little bit witchy anyways (myself included in this) so all the YESES!

Fourth, I’ve always thought that we (those outside of “societal norms”)  carry each other. Queers, witches, women, people of color, and any others living outside of the societal norm…we are all a part of each other and we hold each other up. We may not interact on a daily basis, but when you come for one of us, you come for all of us. I’ve always felt that whether it’s in politics, in a classroom, in a bar, or in my daily life. I will stand tall and strong behind my other weirdos and this book might be the one that has made me feel that the strongest. Throughout the book I kept thinking of that concept and it would make me so emotional I wanted to cry, or yell my loyalty from a mountaintop while pounding my chest. (side note: I stuck with crying for all of those waiting for the live mountaintop feed).

Lastly…my life goal is to now become a Gray.

There is so much more to talk about in this book, but I’ll leave you to go read it now. If you enjoy witches, magic, queers, YA literature and writing that you can taste-I would highly suggest this book. I don’t think you will be disappointed. As always, let me know what you think! You can find me over on Instagram at bookishfolk or right here on the blog! Happy reading and thanks again Candlewick Press for the free copy!

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

Annie On My Mind

Author: Nancy Garden

Published: July 1982

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Where I picked up my book: Local Bookstore

Key Words:  LGBTQ+, YA Lit, Romance

My Rating: 5 stars

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

This groundbreaking book is the story of two teenage girls whose friendship blossoms into love and who, despite pressures from family and school that threaten their relationship, promise to be true to each other and their feelings. The book has been banned from many school libraries and publicly burned in Kansas City.

Of the author and the book, the Margaret A. Edwards Award committee said, “Using a fluid, readable style, Garden opens a window through which readers can find courage to be true to themselves.

My Thoughts:

First, I have to say that I’m stunned it took me until almost 40 years old to read this book. As a lesbian, it feels like one of those books we talk about in our circles, we all say we need to read, we all rave about and one that all of our elder lesbians give us for birthdays and holidays and we see it on the ‘top LGBTQ+ book lists’-but somehow, as a lifelong reader, I never picked it up. WHAT?! I knew I needed to remedy this before someone came and took my lesbian card away (completely kidding here. Don’t @ me), so I purchased it back in June- for one of my Pride month purchases. Well…it is now February, but I finally picked it up and oh my gosh, I’m so glad I did. It is relevant (although thankfully, not as relevant as it was in the 80’s), it is magical, it is honest and so sincere, and it is spot on to what a lot of us went through as we were discovering our sexuality. I just keep telling everyone, it’s the book I wish I had read as a teen. It would have saved me from a lot of confusion, sadness, hurt and questions about whether I was “normal” and it would have allowed me to see myself in a piece of fiction. It might not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, but never seeing myself represented in movies, books, television, or if I’m perfectly honest, in real-life situations either, this book would have changed my world. I’m sure it did for many young lesbians and the thought just makes me cry happy tears.

I’m so thankful that more books with LGBTQ+ representation exists now, but this book should still remain right up there with these newer ones. It’s been one of the top banned books and still remains banned in many places today. So make sure you check with your local libraries to see if they have this one (and check it out so it stays on the shelves). Talk to your local schools and bookstores and make sure it is still a book available in your community. It’s a perfectly relatable book for lesbians and I’ll forever be grateful to Nancy Garden for providing the world with this gift, even if it took me a hot second to finally pick it up 🙂

bookishfolk…read instead.

The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation

Author: Jodie Patterson

Published: January 29, 2019

Publisher: Ballantine Books (THANK YOU!!!)

Where I picked up my book: Gifted from publisher

Key Words: non-fiction, LGBTQ+, diversity, family dynamics

My Rating: 4 stars

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

As an African American growing up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the 1970s, when neighborhoods defined people, Jodie Patterson learned early on to engage with her community for strength and comfort. But then in 2009 this mother of five had her world turned upside down. Realizing that her definition of community wasn’t wide enough for her own child’s needs, Patterson forced the world wide open.

In The Bold World, we witness a mother reshaping her attitudes and beliefs, as well as those of her community, to meet the needs of her transgender son, Penelope– and opening the minds of everyone in her family who absolutely, unequivocally refused to conform.

As we walk alongside Patterson on her journey, we meet the Southern women who came before her–the mother, grandmothers, and aunts who raised and fortified her, all the while challenging cultural norms and gender expectations. She shares her family’s history–particularly incidents within the Black community around sexism, racism, and civil rights. We learn about her children, who act as a vehicle for Jodie Patterson’s own growth and acceptance of her diverse family, and her experiences as a wife, mother, and, eventually, activist. The result is an intimate portrait and an exquisite study in identity, courage, and love. Patterson’s relentless drive to change the world will resonate with and inspire us all, reflecting our own individual strength and tenacity, our very real fears, and, most of all, our singular ability to transform despite the odds.

My Thoughts:

This book tackles so many things-from race, to gender, to parenting, to motherhood, to diversity, to living black in this world, to feminism…it touches on all of these ideas, and more, without being overwhelming or scattered. Instead, it beautifully shows what living in a society that isn’t necessarily set up for you, is like.  The first half of the book focuses of Jodie’s life and what foundation was set for her to stand upon. She talks about past relationships, what struggles occur for black families and people of color in this world, her relationship with her father, her jobs, the strong, black women that came before her, and how she grew up and became who she is today. It wasn’t an A to B to C sort of life she led (or leads for that matter) and that is beautifully made obvious for the reader. This made her feel relatable-she showed her truth and it was powerful.

The second half of the book is where Jodie focuses on her relationship with her child Penelope and what it is like to raise a child that is transgendered in this world, raise a family with a member that is transgender, and raise a world that loves our differences. I felt a deep sense of determination while reading this book. A determination to make this world a better place for every person living in it.  A determination to have every child feel loved and honored and welcomed in this world, BECAUSE of their differences, not despite of them.

Here’s where this book felt personal to me: In a nutshell, my parents couldn’t accept the fact that their child was gay. They stopped speaking to me the day I came out to them, and it has been the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to deal with in my life so far. This book showed me what it would have been like to have a mother that fought as hard as humanly possible for their child in a world that might not always be accepting. It showed me what it would have been like to have a father that, although he had a lot of questions and may have not felt completely comfortable with this new life that fell into his lap, was ready to put in the work and do his damn best for his child and family. It showed me what it would have been like to have siblings that acknowledge you for what you are, and love you unconditionally. It was the parenting that I could only have hoped for, and just because it didn’t happen in my life, it brought me SO SO much joy and happiness that it does for some others. If we can just spread this way of understanding and truly be an accepting, loving and supportive society to every member-we are 100% guaranteed to live in a better world.

I would highly recommend this book. It’s an important read and exactly what this world needs more of.

bookishfok…read instead.

 

 

 

The Great Believers

Author: Rebecca Makkai

Published: June 19, 2018

Publisher: Viking/Penguin Random House

Where I picked up my book: Library (but will be purchasing it ASAP)

Key Words: AIDS epidemic, LGBTQ+, Historical Fiction, friendship

My Rating: 5 stars

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Synopsis (via Penguin Random House):

“A page turner…An absorbing and emotionally riveting story about what it’s like to live during times of crisis. “—The New York Times Book Review
 
A dazzling new novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy and loss set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris, by the acclaimed author Rebecca Makkai

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.

My Thoughts:

This book, although so SO difficult to read, literally swept me away and spit me out after I read the last sentence. I have been waiting years to read this book and finally-it’s here. I’m a gay women, lived in San Francisco where the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic happened and listened to many stories and visited a lot of memorials while there, have a gay aunt that lived in San Francisco during the 80’s and have heard some of her stories about the lesbian community stepping up and helping out in clinics during this time, and I have a lot of gay friends that were affected but this tragedy. On the flip side, I also grew up in the 90’s and clearly remember being taught to completely fear AIDS, it was a punishment for being gay (yep…that’s what a lot of “Christian” households were teaching the time), steer clear of blood transfusions and ban gays from giving blood (Ryan White), and we aren’t quite sure how you get it so just in case, don’t sit on public toilet seats. It was a terrible, fear mongering tactic, but it was also unfortunately, all too common. Ugh…that’s why books like this are so important. Fast forward to my adult years and I remember going to a performance of the gay men’s chorus in San Francisco one winter and they told us to imagine for each man singing, more than one chorus member has died of AIDS. That not only represented what happened to their chorus, but also to the majority of gay communities during the 80’s at the height of the AIDS crisis. Entire communities, apartment buildings, choruses, teams, friend circles, and work places were completely wiped out. Can you even imagine this sort of heartbreak? Even when I try to imagine it, I literally have trouble. After hearing this that night, it made me realize even more how pertinent it is to never let this story, and more importantly, the victim’s stories and memories, disappear.

Most of us know the story of AIDS and how it has maybe been told to us by teachers, or textbooks, but what we might not know is the first hand stories that went along with it. This book, although fiction, gives us a look into what this crisis did to relationships and friendship, how families were affected, what happened behind closed doors and inside peoples heads as they themselves were dying, or as they watched their friends or family die around them. We are shown what hospitals looked like at the time, what happened after the person died, how society treated each other during this time, and how it has affected survivors of the crisis until the present day. This book forced me to imagine what life might have been like to live through this awful experience. It is devastatingly beautiful and I’m not sure I could have enjoyed a book more if I tried. It will most certainly be in my top books of 2018 and I can’t recommend it enough. Thank you Rebecca for writing this story and giving a voice to so many people that might otherwise have been forgotten.

And now…for a drink.

bookishfolk…read instead.

Happy Pride Month

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I’ve read a lot of LGBTQ+ books throughout the years, but I’m always, ALWAYS on the hunt for more. To celebrate Pride Month, here are some books that I highly recommend or am putting on my list and getting a hold of immediately (click title to go to link).

1. No other world by Rahul Mehta

2. Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

3. Eleanor and Hick by Susan Quinn

4. The Color Purple by Toni Morrison

5. Boy Erased by Garrard Conley

6. When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

7. The Gods of Tango by Carolina de Robertis

8. Guapa by Saleen Haddad

9. The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

10. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

11. The Danish Girl by David Ebersboff

12. The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

13. Ask a Queer Chick by Lindsay King-Miller

14. The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

15. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

16. The New Old Me by Meredith Maran

17. Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg

18. Alexander and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sanchez

19. Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

18. Fun Home Allison Bechdel

20. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

21. How to Survive a Summer by Nick White

22. From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson

23. Queer, There, and Everywhere by Sarah Prager

24. The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara

25. Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

26. Tomorrow Will be Different by Sarah McBride

27. America is not the Heart by Elaine Castillo

28. Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu

29. Under the Undala Tree by Chinelo Okparanta

30. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

31. Lies we Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Please let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought! Also…leave a comment and let me know other LGBTQ+ books that I must get my hands on immediately. Happy Pride and Happy Reading!

bookishfolk…read instead.