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Last Night at the Telegraph Club

por Malinda Lo

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246884,251 (4.37)2
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Mostrando 1-5 de 8 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
CW: racism, micro aggressions, usage of slurs, homophobia, xenophobia

I don’t usually gravitate towards historical fiction; even when I do, it’s been largely limited to romances or WWII European settings. But when I realized this book was about a queer Asian American girl in the 50s, I knew I had to pick it up immediately. And this was just wow.

I have always heard a lot about the author Malinda Lo, how she is a pioneer in both bringing Asian American authors as well as sapphic fiction to YA mainstream, but I never got around to reading any of her works before. However, I now realize why she is considered to be such an inspiration. The writing in this book is beautiful and stunning - I felt transported to 50s Chinatown in San Francisco because that’s how powerful and vivid the author’s descriptions are. It’s both an exciting coming of age story of a young lesbian girl as well as a daily chronicle of life of Chinese American high school girls of the time - and I really loved how the author did justice to both aspects of the story. The story might feel mundane at times, but it’s still high stakes and there were so many moments where I was scared, happy, devastated and hopeful - it takes us through a gamut of emotions and it’s a true testament to the author’s skill.

Lily is a typical Asian American child in many ways. She is a dutiful daughter like her parents expect, concentrating on her studies and socializing with kids whose families are acquaintances. But she is also an American who wants to be free and is ambitious enough to want to go to space and just wants to create her own destiny. In the midst of this turmoil of trying to fit in with both worlds, especially when she is not completely welcome in one, she also grapple with the realization of her sexuality - which is both thrilling and scary. But the author does such a brilliant job of bringing all these aspects of Lily’s personality to life and I loved her so much. Her complicated friendship with her childhood friend, a budding forbidden relationship with another young girl and just wanting to know more about this new community that she could possibly belong to - it’s all very vividly captured and made it very easy to empathize with Lily. The way the author explores various relationships, especially the ones between lesbian women whom Lily meets, who are trying to live their life and find places where they can be themselves, left a very deep impression on me.

Having recently read a couple of books about Asian American history, it was very intriguing to read more about McCarthyism and the red scare of the 50s, and the author shows us how terrifying it must have been for the Chinese Americans of the time, who had dedicated their lives to be good citizens but still had to prove that they weren’t communist sympathizers, sometimes while realizing that anything they did would never be proof enough. What really surprised me was that there was also a fear during the time that homosexual was related to communism, and the author deftly explores how this would cause even more chaos in the life a young queer Asian girl, who is now doubly scared of being deported (or of her family being subjected to it) both for her sexuality as well as her ethnicity. The author’s note at the end goes into much detail about what inspired her to write this story and how difficult it is to find more information about the lives of girls like Lily.

In the end, this is a coming of age tale of a girl whose stories are usually missing from the historical fiction genre - queer Asian Americans. As we all know that it’s even more difficult to be openly queer in Asian families, it’s really important that we get to read more of these stories - so that young Asian kids know that they aren’t alone. If you like YA or coming of age stories or just historical fiction, I highly recommend this book. ( )
  ksahitya1987 | Aug 20, 2021 |
YA, but sexy. ( )
  krtierney | Aug 20, 2021 |
Series Info/Source: This is a stand alone book. I got a copy of this book from the library to read.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book a lot. It’s set in the 1950’s in San Francisco and there are a ton of interesting historical events in the background here. Lily is affected by Red-Scare paranoia and is trying to walk a fine line as a Chinese American. Women are starting to break away from the “norms” that have been set for them as well. In addition to all that, GLBT culture is starting to work its way out into the open in San Francisco. Then there is the intriguing popularity of female male impersonators.

Watching Lily and Kathleen attempt to navigate this changing world is fascinating. Aside from that this ends up being a very sweet love story between the two. The turmoil and acceptance (or not) of their families is intriguing, heartwarming, and heartbreaking all at once.

This story is incredibly well written with amazing description, a wonderfully intriguing setting, and very human characters. This book was incredibly hard to put down and I really loved it. Previous to reading this book I had also enjoyed “Ash” and “Huntress” by Lo; I was not a huge fan of her “Adaptation” series.

My Summary (5/5): Overall I absolutely loved this book. It blended together so many amazing elements. I loved the historical setting, the complex characters, and the amazing writing. This was one of the best books by Lo I have read in some time and I look forward to seeing what Lo comes up with next. ( )
  krau0098 | Aug 13, 2021 |
Such a great romance in this one, I really liked how early on a connection is established between Lily and Kath through their interest in STEM (Kath loves planes, Lily’s interested in space), then there’s the slow burn pacing of their relationship which not only is the pace I prefer to read in romances, it also feels character appropriate given the stage both girls are at with their sexuality and dating experience.

I loved the attention to detail throughout this book, it’s very descriptive and not in an exhaustive info-dumping sort of way, but in a way where it’s woven in so well to the narrative, where you’re given this tremendous sense of place and time, and you can totally picture the clothing which is an essential element of Lily’s story. We’re all accustomed to books waxing poetic about pretty dresses but what’s special here is that the “traditionally masculine” styles some female characters wear in this book are just as celebrated, they’re described just as sensuously and glamorously, as they should be.

The segments focused on Lily’s parents and her aunt held my interest, however, I didn’t feel like there were enough of them nor did they delve deep enough to feel like they added as much to the story as maybe they could have. But that’s really the only very minor quibble I had here, overall this a fantastic read, the historical context of Lily’s Chinese heritage and sexuality and America, it’s touching, it’s infuriating, and every so often the drama of Lily’s situation gives way to some sweetly tentative romance. ( )
  SJGirl | Jun 21, 2021 |
Oh this was delightful. Lo really digs into the geography of 1950s San Francisco and manages to make the obvious research she did (and what she writes about doing at the end) a core part of the book without it really being an Obvious Infodump? This is just such a book rooted beautifully, beautifully in place and I love it for that. She just does a great job of constructing the world and guiding you through it.

Lily feels so real and has such complex feelings and I love to see her get to develop a community and be mentored to some small extent even by older queer people. The tension also of being both Chinese American and gay is really explored in a way that doesn't feel like you're being hit over the head with like Belonging Only Partly in Two Different Worlds But Never Wholly By Either; the racism by white queer people in the book feels very matter of fact and although we (and Lily) cringe at it, and it's clear it's Wrong and tokenizing, it also feels... period appropriate (and obviously of course there is ongoing anti-Asian racism in white queer circles that has to be addressed, but its form has transformed somewhat.)

The end feels like a balance of kind of predictable but also nice. I would like to see if we could do this balance that doesn't require a family coming out, just because that's My Shit (not having to draw on current narratives about coming out etc.)

Overall, a really lovely book that I enjoyed very much. It never felt slow or particularly contrived, and I really recommend it! ( )
  aijmiller | May 25, 2021 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 8 (seguinte | mostrar todos)

» Adicionar outros autores (1 possível)

Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Malinda Loautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculated
Booth, AnnaDesignerautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Boyle, KristinDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Heausler, AnneCopy editorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Ruan, FeifeiArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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To all the butches and femmes,
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The Miss Chinatown contestants were clustered together behind a canvas screen near the stage.
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