Queer Lit Review: June 2024

Hello and welcome to the June 2024 edition of the Queer Lit Review! 

Happy Pride Month! We are super excited to let you know that the We Are Pride booklist is out and you can find a printed copy at your local library branch or you can peruse the online list here and easily place holds on all the titles that catch your interest. 

For the Queer Lit Review this month we have five queer women finding solace and a home together, a high school junior desperately wanting to be editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, and two women on a Bachelor style reality show falling for each other. 

These books may be available in other formats or languages. Check our catalog for availability.

Happy Reading!

Title/Author:  Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis

Reviewer:  Jordan

Summary:  Enduring the rampant violence against women and the LGBTQ community in the decades of the Uruguayan dictatorship, five women heartbreakingly unite as lovers, friends, and family.

Series/Standalone:  Standalone

Genre/Sub-Genre:  Fiction

Book Format: Print

Length:  318 pages

LGBTQ+ Orientation:  Lesbian

Content Warnings:  Rape, abuse, torture, and suicide.

Well-Written/Editor Needed:  Well-written!

Would I Recommend?:  YES!

Personal thoughts:  This might just be the best book I’ve read so far this year. As someone who is in the long and slow process of getting a group of mostly queer friends together to find a place to live together, this book hit home for me as these women struck out as a group to find a place they could call their own. The difference is that they were doing it in the middle of a dictatorship ripe with homophobia and violence against women when it would have been an even more difficult thing to accomplish.

This story covers several decades, beginning in the 1970s & 1980s before we skip ahead to 2013 and De Robertis does a great job of spanning the time as the women fall in and out of love, grow, and change. Each of them stands out with their own backstories and their own wants and needs. They are not perfect, and neither are their relationships with each other, but they stick it out and stick together as much as they are able to, for a realistic, heartening, and inspiring read.

The landscape, from the city of Montevideo to the isolated shores of Cabo Polonio, is well-depicted and I felt like I was there with them, swimming in the cold Atlantic and building a home together with its leaky roof and minimal furnishings.

The writing style was beautiful and poetic, drawing me in: “She hadn’t known air could taste like this, so wide, so open. Her body a welcome. Skin awake. The world was more than she had known, even if only for this instant, even if only in this place. She let her lips part and the breeze glided into her mouth, fresh on her tongue, full of stars.”  

Overall, I loved this book, and I highly recommend it.

Title/Author: We Got the Beat by Jenna Miller 

Reviewer: Morgan 

Summary: Jordan, a high school junior, desperately wants to be her school newspaper’s editor-in-chief. But instead of her dream position, Jordan gets assigned to cover volleyball…where her friend-turned-crush-turned-enemy has just been named captain. 

Series/Standalone: Standalone 

Genre/Sub-Genre: Teen Romance 

Book Format: eBook 

LGBTQ+ Orientation: Lesbian, plus non-binary and bi secondary characters 

Content Warnings: Fatphobia, internalized homophobia, bullying, underage drinking, mentions of drugs and sex 

Well-Written/Editor Needed: Well-written 

Would I Recommend?: Yes! 

Personal thoughts: This wonderful book felt like getting a hug! The entire cast was delightful. I actually love that all the characters get to act like teens — yes, they act stupid sometimes, but they're 16. It's expected since they aren't adults. It's genuinely fantastic that teens will be able to read this and see themselves and the way they act represented. 

As a former journalist, I also adored re-entering the newspaper world. It's nice to read about young people who share that passion and want to make the field even better. Plus, a non-binary journalism teacher in their late 20s? I feel SEEN. 

Jordan is one of my new favorite YA protagonists for how unapologetically she embraces her nerdiness and body. I too am a fat nerdy lesbian, and the representation is impeccable. Mack is also precious, and I love their romance (which is rare for me when it comes to teen characters). I'm already excited to read what Jenna Miller writes next. 

Title/Author: Here for the Wrong Reasons by Annabel Paulsen and Lydia Wang

Reviewer: Laura B.

Summary: Krystin and Lauren meet as contestants on the Bachelor style reality show “Hopeless Romantic.” Krystin is truly there to win over Josh, while Lauren is just hoping to boost her social media following. Instead, the women find themselves falling for each other much to the surprise of Krystin, who is having her lesbian awakening while competing on a very heterosexual show!

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre/Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Format: Physical

Length: 336 pages

LGBTQ+ Orientation: Lesbian

HEA/HFN: Happily ever after

Content Warnings: Nothing major

Ratio of Sex/Plot: Mostly plot, very little sex

Well-Written/Editor Needed: Well-written

Would I Recommend it?: Yes!

Personal Thoughts: This isn’t a groundbreaking book, but it is a fun romance and I think it makes a perfect summer beach read. It is also a very quick read (I read it in one evening), which makes it perfect for summer vacations!

I’m a sucker for any reality TV show themed book — romance, thriller, literary fiction, I’ll read any of it. So it isn’t a big surprise that I really enjoyed this. I thought Lauren and Krystin were both likable characters despite spending most of the book leading Josh on. I also loved how Josh became a real supporter of their relationship, even if that did feel a little unrealistic.

I think my favorite part about the book was how it incorporated reality TV structure into the story. It was a dual point of view book, but also had shot chapters throughout with snippets from all of the contestants’ confessionals. I thought that was a fun way to get to know the background characters while keeping the focus of the plot on Krystin and Lauren’s romance! I similarly really enjoyed the portions of the book when the characters were on dates for the show, because the authors did a great job of making the dates as creative and ridiculous as they are in real life.

I must admit that I did spend too much time while reading this trying to figure out which actual queer Bachelor contestants Krystin and Lauren were inspired by (Becca? Demi? Gabby?), so be prepared for that distraction if you’re at all familiar with Bachelor lore. Luckily neither of the characters were too similar to any of the real life Bachelor ladies, so this didn’t read like fanfic when it very easily could have.

Another very cute part of this book is that the authors started dating while writing it!