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4.5 out of 5
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  • Stunning Coming-of-Age in 1954 SF

    Set in 1954 San Francisco Chinatown, Lily begins to secretly go to a lesbian club called the Telegraph Club with her friend Kath. explore her sexuality by going to a club called the Telegraph Club with her. With the Red Scare paranoia high and the risk of her father being deported, this is not a safe time for two girls to fall in love. Three words to describe this book: Risk. Yearning. Awakening. Cover: I loved this graphic illustration of North Beach (where many gay and lesbian bars were) and Chinatown. Lily and Kath are having a moment in an alleyway. Character Development: Beautiful and rich – I genuinely cared about Lily and got a sense of who she was. Malinda Lo develops Lily quite well. She helps further that development by providing flashbacks of her father, her aunt, her mother to help better understand the context of the time as a Chinese immigrant and the paranoia about the Red Scare. I loved the description of Kath and Lily’s found family at the Telegraph Club. World-Building: I felt like I was walking down the street next to Lily throughout this novel. The world of Chinatown and North come alive and I often felt like I could smell the cigarette smoke and lust throughout the book. Plot & Pacing: The start of this novel is a tad bit slow but quickly picks up. Due to the historical time and risks that Lily took made the novel read like a thriller. The conflict that arises feels authentic and realistic to the era. Verdict: This is my favorite book of 2021 and has solidified my interest in queer historical fiction. Despite every obstacle encountered, these queer folks found each other and learned how to live as themselves when the world was not ready for them. I found this particularly inspiring and hopeful to be a queer person today. I often feel that I do not fit in the world. Books show me that this feeling is timeless and living as ourselves is worth it.

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    9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • :,))))

    This was a really incredible book, and I can’t wait to read the sequel

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