Hello everybody! Today, I’m going to be reviewing some of the wonderful books with LGBTQ+ rep that I’ve read so far this month, in honour of it being pride and as part of my pal Ross’s amazing readathon. Onto the post!
All the Gifts That Bind Us by Caroline O’ Donoghue
As with the first book in the series, I buddy read this with my friend Sophie, and our shared love for these books is honestly one of my favourite things to happen this year. This follows on from book one in a way that’s hard to describe without being spoilery, but Maeve, Roe, Fiona and Lily are all grappling with the discovery of their gifts after what they go through in All Our Hidden Gifts, and then when the flow of magic in Kilbeg starts to malfunction, presumably due to the fascist group Children of Brigid, they have to come together again and try and save it and themselves from disaster. The best way to describe my feelings on this book is just to tell you it’s perfect; the lead characters are flawed and human and interesting, the plot is so intriguing that you just can’t put it down, the villains are genuinely sinister in a proper like giving you chills kind of way, and it deftly combines fantasy and contemporary, which allows for exploration of the series’ big themes- the most important of which is undoubtedly the way it tackles hatred towards queer people such as Roe and other side characters, but also some really gorgeous, complicated friendship issues. I’m going to shut up now before I tell you everything and make it so it would be pointless for you to read this, but just trust me, you need these books in your life almost as much as I need the third one in my hands right now.
Gay Club! by Simon James Green (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
If you don’t know how much I love Simon’s books, you clearly haven’t been around here long because I’ve been obsessed since 2017 and he just gets better and better. His newest contemporary comedy is the story of Barney, who is part of his school’s LGBTQ club and a shoo-in to be it’s next president, until his rival schemes to get the vote opened up to the whole school and then a backstabbing, lowkey vicious election campaign begins. Barney is a quintessential Simon James Green protagonist; he is awkward and funny and kind, and I just loved him wholeheartedly and immediately. His friendships with George and Maya were also super lovely, the rivalry with Brontë and how that develops is delicious, and some other memorable characters who deserve a mention are Kyle and Danny, but I can’t really tell you much about either I’m afraid. This book is a love letter to the LGBTQ+ community, and I’m not in the slightest bit ashamed to tell you I cried at the end. Whatever Simon writes next, you’d better believe I’ll be here raving about it next year (PS, #VoteBarney)
Looking for Emily by Fiona Longmuir (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
The minute I heard about this, I knew it would be my vibe, and I was (thrillingly) completely correct. It’s a middle grade mystery set in a small, seaside town called Edge, and follows a girl called Lily who discovers this strange little museum full of a girl named Emily’s possessions, and she sets out to discover who Emily is and why she seemingly vanished into thin air. I loved the main trio of friends- Lily, Sam and Jay- and the super fun camaraderie between them, and there are some amazing secondary characters too, including a superbly named villain called Horace Snyde. There are some brilliant twists and reveals in here, and I had the greatest time reading it, honestly; it’s so exactly the sort of quirky, fun book that I’ve always loved and always will. It also gets major points for the incidental, same sex parents rep, because LGBTQ rep in middle grade is still all too rare and I’m so here for seeing more of it. Fiona is a really exciting new author and I can’t wait to see what she does next, especially because I’ve seen her discuss other projects online and they all sound AMAZING.
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
I’ve genuinely wanted to read this for years, and I’m so happy to have finally gotten to it because, as I just said in my review of Looking for Emily, I think more rep in middle grade is so vitally important. It follows a girl named, perhaps unsurprisingly, Ivy Aberdeen whose home is destroyed in a tornado, and then she loses a notebook full of drawings of her with other girls, as her art is her main way of working out her sexuality, because she has realised she has crushes on girls and is incredibly worried about how this will impact her life. She’s also struggling with the impact of the tornado on her life, and the feeling that her parents no longer care about her after the birth of her baby twin brothers. Ivy is such a wonderfully written character and I defy anyone to read this and not adore her, Robin is the most amazing mentor/confidante figure to her, and although Ivy can’t always see it, Taryn is an incredible friend. Her relationship with June is also really beautiful and moving, and June’s backstory made her an even more special character. I will definitely be getting hold of Ashley’s other middle grade which sounds incredible, and I also have a copy sitting of her adult debut Delilah Green Doesn’t Care that I should hopefully get to later this month.
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
If you’ve been around here a long time, you might know that I am a diehard fan of Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (still salty they didn’t use that title for the film, if I’m honest) and also the vastly underrated the Upside of Unrequited. However, I have never picked up this sort of sequel focusing on Simon’s best friend Leah, who is a fat bisexual girl navigating senior year and friendships and also a pretty big crush situation with someone in their friend group, as I was really worried it just couldn’t live up to my expectations, especially going in with the knowledge of **that** scene where Leah isn’t very kind to her love interest when they come out to her and she says their label isn’t valid. However, I do think that scene is very much the character’s opinion rather than the author’s as some people alleged at the time, and while I wish she’d been challenged by someone like Simon or “Blue” or really just anyone, it didn’t ruin the book and honestly I was totally shipping Leah and **redacted** (I totally knew who the LI was going in, but just in case anyone has somehow managed to avoid spoilers for this my review is giving nothing away.) So now that’s over, and I do feel it was important to mention, let’s chat about all the GREAT bits of this! It was so fun to see all my Creekwood gang again and spend so much time with them; their banter is hilarious and I just love each and every one of them (well, maybe not Morgan, but the rest of them!!). Simon and “Blue” brought me immense joy, in particular. There are so many funny, wholesome and romantic moments throughout this that just made me really happy, and the pop culture references were just so entirely my jam (an oh wonder reference!!! Let me tell you I SCREAMED). Leah is a complex character and no, she isn’t always likable, but she shouldn’t have to be. I felt like I really understood a lot of her behaviour and I loved her so much more for getting to truly know her and see every side of her personality. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hunt down a copy of Love, Creekwood ASAP.
Thank you so much for reading! Which LGBTQ+ books have you read so far this pride month? Do you have any thoughts on the books I’ve included? I’d love to have a chat with you in the comments!!