Welcome back, book lovers! October is LGBT History Month, a month set aside annually to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ people and history, and to combat the prejudice they face to this day. Further, October 11th marks National Coming Out Day, on which many LGBTQ+ individuals will take the big step of coming out about their sexuality to their friends and family. In honor of both, we’re sharing three new titles that center upon the LGBTQ+ community and highlight these moments.
by Malinda Lo
Before going off to college, Aria Tang West was looking forward to one last summer on Martha’s Vineyard with her best friends. However, after a graduation party goes awry, Aria’s parents send her off to California to stay with her grandmother, Joan. While there, Aria encounters Steph, her grandmother’s gardener. Suddenly, Aria’s world is turned upside down, with her second-guessing who she is and what she wants to be. Further, a summer that once seemed lost becomes unforgettable—not just for Aria, but also for her family and the queer community Steph introduces her to.
Malinda Lo, the award-winning author of Ash, returns with a new queer coming-of-age novel. This romance features numerous LGBTQ+ characters and centralizes on themes of self-discovery, sexuality, and love. Additionally, with the story being set against the backdrop of the first major Supreme Court decisions that legalized gay marriage, it holds historical significance as well. Also, readers of Last Night at the Telegraph Club will appreciate a brief glimpse of Lily and Kath’s future lives.
Coffee Shop Read
by Jessi Hempel
Growing up, Jessi Hempel’s middle-class family appeared perfect. However, this was hardly the case. Jessi’s father was constantly traveling for work, and her mother increasingly became more erratic. As a result, Jessi and her siblings struggled to make sense of their family. Further, each family member was hiding their truest self from the world. By the time Jessi reached adulthood, everyone had come out in their own way: Jessi as lesbian, her brother as transgender, her sister as bisexual, her father as gay, and her mother as a survivor of a traumatic experience with an alleged serial killer. Coming out was just the beginning, and sparked a chain reaction of other personal revelations for each.
Jessi Hempel delivers a memoir about the remarkable transformation of her family, with nearly all of them embracing their queer identities. Regarded as witty, fascinating, and wise, this memoir is a great way to learn about the coming-out journeys of others. Additionally, this piece serves as a reminder to all to avoid hiding aspects of ourselves and instead live our entire truth.
by Lev A.C. Rosen
When Irene Lamontaine, the matriarch of a famous soap empire, mysteriously dies, her family suspects foul play. Set in 1952, Lamontaine had been the owner of the Lavender House. This estate offers safety and freedom to its LGBTQ+ residents and staff, who typically have to keep their identities a secret. However, in keeping the gates locked to outsiders, Irene’s widow now worries that they’ve been harboring a murderer inside with them. As a result, Irene’s widow hires Evander “Andy” Mills—a police officer who was recently fired due to being discovered at a gay bar during a raid. Soon, Andy finds himself caught in a web of family secrets, old money, jealousy, and deceit.
The author of All Men of Genius, Lev A.C. Rosen, delivers this suspenseful thriller that holds a queer historical twist. Beyond giving visibility to numerous LGBTQ+ characters, this book sheds light upon the prejudice that many queer individuals have had and continue to face. Not only that, but Rosen will also have you on the edge of your seat the entire time.
We hope you add these books to your TBR list this month! For last week’s Three To Read recommendations, click here.