Tuesday, September 19, 2023


Loosely linked to Lo's book, Last Night at the Telegraph Club, this one is a more contemporary story set against the backdrop of the legalisation of gay marriage.  Set in and around San Francisco, the book follows Aria as her summer plans are derailed by an unfortunate graduation party incident.  Instead of going with her two besties to Martha's Vineyard, Aria finds herself packed off to stay with her grandmother just outside San Francisco.

Aria loves her grandmother and despite being upset about her summer plans being undone, she quickly settles in and finds herself a space in her grandmother's old art studio.  She even starts making art of her own, something she's never done before or even really considered, despite her grandmother being a well-known artist and photographer.

And then there's Steph, her grandmother's gardener who Aria finds inexplicitly fascinating.  And Steph seems interested in her too, asking her accompany her and her friends to an open mic, movie night and to a protest march in the city.  

Surrounded by this group of queer women and undeniably attracted to Steph, Aria's "boring" summer becomes suddenly much more interesting.  

I enjoyed this one a lot.  Aria felt like a very real person as she grappled with feelings and thoughts she'd never considered before.  I also liked the way she peeked into her family history and discovered things there that helped her come to terms with the person she truly is.  She's not a perfect person either and does some things that are quite questionable along the way, but they just serve to make her feel more like a real person.

So I'd recommend this one. 

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb: 

Award-winning author Malinda Lo returns to the Bay Area with another masterful coming-of-queer-age story, this time set against the backdrop of the first major Supreme Court decisions legalizing gay marriage. And almost sixty years after the end of Last Night at the Telegraph Club, Lo's new novel also offers a glimpse into Lily and Kath's lives since 1955.

Aria Tang West was looking forward to a summer on Martha's Vineyard with her best friends—one last round of sand and sun before college. But after a graduation party goes wrong, Aria's parents exile her to California to stay with her grandmother, artist Joan West. Aria expects boredom, but what she finds is Steph Nichols, her grandmother's gardener. Soon, Aria is second-guessing who she is and what she wants to be, and a summer that once seemed lost becomes unforgettable—for Aria, her family, and the working-class queer community Steph introduces her to. It's the kind of summer that changes a life forever.