Pizza Girl (Jean Kyoung Frazier)

Pizza Girl is the first novel by Jean Kyoung Frazier.
Finished on: 11.8.2021

Content Note: stalking, alcoholism

Plot:
She is 18 years old, pregnant and works as a pizza delivery girl. Living with her mother and her boyfriend who seem way more excited about the baby than she is, she has no idea where to go from here. She doesn’t even want to think about it. Then she delivers a pizza one day to Jenny and her son. Something about Jenny’s apparently chaotic life and her ponytail draws her in, and Jenny, too, seems to take an interest in the “Pizza Girl”, as she calls her. She starts waiting and hoping for Jenny’s call to the pizza place every week – but soon that isn’t enough anymore.

Pizza Girl should be a heavy book but somehow Frazier manages to keep it light and quick despite the many difficult topics she touches on. While I appreciate that, I would have also liked to feel the heaviness a little more. That being said, it’s certainly a memorable novel and a very good debut that will stay with me.

The book cover showing a graphic of an open, empty pizza box in front of a black and pink background.
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Fat Chance, Charlie Vega (Crystal Maldonado)

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is the first novel by Crystal Maldonado.
Finished on: 8.7.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) fatmisia, diet culture, racism

Plot:
Charlie and her parents used to be a good team, but since her dad died, her mom has gotten obsessed with her own weight – and with Charlie’s. Constantly leaving her diet suggestions, Charlie feels that her mother is never happy with her. It feels like the only person who is firmly in her corner is Amelia – who is everything that Charlie is not: beautiful. Athletic. Popular. In a relationship with a cute boy. When Brian takes an interest in Charlie, instead of easier, things get even more complicated for her.

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is an absolutely lovely, wonderful and cute book that I wished I could have read when I was a (fat) teenager. But better now than never!

The book cover showing a fat, Brown girl with glasses in front of a few flowers.
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Felix Ever After (Kacen Callender)

Felix Ever After is a novel by Kacen Callender.
Finished on: 25.6.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) transmisia, queermisia

Plot:
Felix is a student at an art school, hoping to get into a good college to pursue his art further. He therefore attends summer school with his best friend Ezra. He is also Black, trans, queer and desperate to fall in love for the first time, but secretly afraid that he has one marginalized identity too many. And maybe he is not all that sure about his identities anyway. Before he figures anything out, though, Felix arrives in school one morning to find pre-transitions photos of himself and his deadname plastered all over the school gallery. Suspecting his classmate and rival Declan, Felix hatches a plan to make him pay. But that plan leads him somewhere else entirely.

Felix Ever After is wonderful. Simply wonderful. It’s the kind of novel that queer people everywhere should grow up with, really. It made my heart swell in the best of ways.

The book cover showing an illustration of a Black guy in a tank top. His arms are covered in small tattoos, he is wearing a flower crown and underneath the tank top, we can just make out scars from top surgery.
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The Black Flamingo (Dean Atta)

The Black Flamingo is the first novel by Dean Atta, with illustrations by Anshika Khullar.
Finished on: 10.5.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism, homomisia

Plot:
Michael is a Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican, gay, Black boy in England. Figuring out what that means exactly isn’t easy. Throughout high school, he figures things out together with his best friend Daisy. But it isn’t until university where Michael discovers drag for himself that he really finds answers to the question of who he is.

The Black Flamingo is a novel in verse written for a younger audience about identity, race and sexual orientation. In theory, this sounds like a challenging novel to say the least. In practice, it is a wonderfully easy, touching read that challenges in such a way that you barely notice what it’s doing. It is absolutely fantastic.

The book cover showing the drawing of a young Black man wearing black feathers, cradling a black flamingo. He is surrounded by pink feathers and four pink flamingos.
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Queenie (Candice Carty-Williams)

Queenie is the first novel by Candice Carty-Williams.
Finished on: 13.3.2021

Content Note: abuse, sexualized violence, self-harm, mental illness, (critical treatment of) racism and misogynoir

Plot:
Queenie works as a journalist and lives with her boyfriend Tom. Or rather, she lived with Tom – until Tom decided to stay with his parents for a while. When Tom finally asks Queenie to move out of their apartment while they are on a break, Queenie starts to unravel completely. She feels out of place at work and with her family, and generally feels out of sorts. While her friends try to support her, it is unclear whether Queenie can support herself.

Queenie is an unusual book in that it both handles really tough topics and has the tone of a RomCom most of the time. You have to brace yourself for many parts of the novel, and then you find yourself laughing again. It is a mix that is both uncomfortable and works extremely well. I was very impressed by it, especially considering that it’s a debut novel.

The book cover showing the drawing of a knot of rasta locks, and a pierced ear with three earrings. The face of the drawn person isn't visible.
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Scar (Alice Broadway)

Scar is the final novel in the Skin Books trilogy by Alice Broadway.
Finished on: 23.7.2019
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the trilogy.]

Plot:
Leora has returned from Featherstone to Saintstone, only to find herself captured by Mayor Longsight. As the rift between the two villages and communities grows ever bigger, Leora becomes a symbol for both of them, while desperately trying to keep either from inflicting any more damage on each other. And she should also protect the people she loves and who love her – even if she isn’t too sure who that may be.

Scar is a nice finish to the trilogy, even if it felt a little hurried. It may be the weakest of the three novels, but it works.

The book cover that is covered in purple tattoo-like markings, showing two birds, a snake, a fox, butterflies and a girl in white instead of red, stretching her arm toward one of the birds.
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Spark (Alice Broadway)

Spark is the second novel in the Skin Books trilogy by Alice Broadway.
Finished on: 18.7.2019
[Here’s my review of the first book.]

Plot:
After the recent revelations about her world and herself, Leora is questioning everything. It appears that everything she ever knew is wrong. Saintstone’s Mayor Longsight hopes to use Leora to spy on the blanks in Featherstone, but Leora is not so sure that she can do it. Or that she should. But she can’t really say no, either. And so she leaves the only town she ever knew to try to learn more.

Spark is a really good sequel, a quick read that kept me engaged and gives Leora space to grow in a very understandable way. I liked it.

The book cover that is covered in red tattoo-like markings, showing, among other things, a bird, a squirrel, a feather and a girl in white instead of red, stretching her arm toward the bird.
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Ink (Alice Broadway)

Ink is the first novel in the Skin Books trilogy by Alice Broadway.
Finished on: 23.5.2019

Plot:
In Saintstone, everyone is tattooed and every important life event is recorded in tattoos. When a person dies, their skin is preserved in a book that chronicles and pays hommage to their life. This thought gives Leora, who dreams of becoming an inker herself, much peace when her own father dies. But then she glimpses a mark that should not be there, something that marks him as a traitor. With that realization, Leora’s entire life starts to unravel.

Ink is not exactly subtle in its metaphors about surveillance states and populism. It doesn’t need to be to be a good read – and that it certainly was. Even if you aren’t as into tattoos as I am.

The book cover that is covered in bronze-colored tattoo-like markings, showing, among other things, an owl, an eagle, a feather and a girl in white instead of bronze.
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