Calling all #BookTok regulars, here are some fantastic finds that we loved!
1. Women by Chloe Caldwell
This sparkling work of creative nonfiction is a compelling canvas of heart, heartache and heartbreak. A whirlwind romance in writing, the text conveys what it means to truly love somebody, and if it’s possible to love somebody maybe a little bit too much.
Fascinating and phenomenal, the reader is privy to watching a sapphic romance take flight, and, later, to land back on Planet Earth. The first-person narration is exceptionally written, successful at being both outstanding and yet relatable. Tracing the journey of self-discovery, the book challenges a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be queer, and how to wear that label. It is not always an immediately known thing, and identities are fluid; constantly evolving in shape.
Love, lust, limerence and lies converge to craft the author’s affair with the remarkable Finn. The morals are skewed. The love is real. It’s all very complicated. Look after your own heart, for Finn might break it.
2. If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich
Focused around the secret relationship between two members of a world-famous boyband, the novel suggests a plot piloted by fanfiction. Yet, the book deserves its flowers for embracing the experience of blossoming young queer love so beautifully, while also tackling some of the politics of visibility and representation on the world’s stage.
Ruben and Zach take a not-so-traditional route down the oh-so-traditional road of the friends-to-lovers trope, heightened by the overbearing mania of media and management that comes with being public figures.
The queer relationship takes centre-stage against a backdrop of European cities on a sold-out world tour, during which time the band members realise they can use their voices for more than just making music. Particularly poignant was Zach’s coming-out story, as he finds himself attracted to both men and women.
By the end of the novel, you’re sure to be searching up the fictional band Saturday on Spotify in hopes they really do exist, or else frantically refreshing socials for news of a television adaptation.
3. The Women of Primrose Square by Claudia Carroll
Taking the form of a split narrative, this read illustrates a world of women who are all equally honest and equally real. One in particular is Francesca, whose story captivates her neighbourhood and pushes the plot along. Revealing herself - albeit accidentally - as a trans woman at her 50th birthday surprise party, the novel platforms the reality that trans people have always existed, across every age demographic.
While the work addresses some of the tensions that come with monumental change, including societal stigma, Carroll does a wonderful job of communicating how incredibly beautiful it is to be who you truly are.
Beyond Francesca’s story, there are many others, including Gracie, Violet, Emily and Jayne. You’ll have to crack open the book to find out more about them, but it will be so worth it.
A word of warning: sensitive topics are addressed, as one would expect. While there is the opportunity for plenty of tears, there are also plenty of laughs, too.
4. Notes on Heartbreak by Annie Lord - *SPECIAL MENTION*
Stay with me here. While not an LGBTQ+ novel, it does succeed in communicating the message that It Gets Better. In this bestselling work of nonfiction, Vogue columnist Annie Lord details her heartbreak, hatred, humour and healing as she recovers from a monumental breakup and learns to love again. This time, herself.
The choice to include this book as a special mention stems from its emphasis on feeling. It is raw and real and, at times, all too relatable. Centred around falling in love, falling apart and forming once more, better than before, the most important relationship in this book is Lord’s relationship with herself, and for that reason, it earns a shoutout on this list.
Just to say, readers would be advised to approach this book with the comforting companions of chocolate and tissues. Seriously.