I’m happy I received an e-ARC of “Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home” by Lara Lillibridge via NetGalley. Thank you Skyhorse Publishing and Smith Publicity for this copy!
I stumbled upon this book on NetGalley, and the title of the book intrigued me. Thanks to my fellow bookstagrammers recommending LGBTQ+ fiction on the Internet, I was inclined towards reading books in this genre. And then I found a memoir with an LGBTQ+ theme. A merger of two genres I’m interested in. How cool is that? I immediately clicked the “Request” button. And when I received the standard email fron NetGalley saying I’ve been accepted to read and review this book, I was overjoyed.
This memoir is written by Lara Lillibridge who grew up with two moms, and she hopes that your view about her story is not affected by this fact. Told from the third person POV of Lara as “Girl”, Girl shares some of her childhood experiences, that most of us have never experienced. For example, have you ever stayed at a summer camp, where everyone and their parents roamed around naked 24×7? Have you ever travelled unaccompanied as a kid, almost four thousand miles away from home, on a flight, with only the air hostesses to look after your daily needs? Have you ever gone on a sailing expedition across the Alaskan seas at the age of ten, with a crew consisting of only your dad and your brother, who is just a year older to you?
If you haven’t, you’ve got to read this book.
This book is divided into sections based on the age of the author (The Early Years, Elementary School, Middle School, Junior High, High School, College and Beyond). Within each section, there are multiple chapters told from Girl’s POV. The last chapter in each section is written from the first person perspective and as a ‘current-age’ essay.
What I liked about this book is that it is relatable, yet unique. The experiences that I have mentioned above, and the many other experiences shared by the author may be unfamiliar to the reader. But I’m pretty damn sure that almost everyone who reads this book will relate to the emotions that the author has shared in this memoir. A teenager reading this book would be able to relate with the emotions of ‘not being able to fit in with the popular crowd’ or ‘the struggles of pretending to be cool while on a budget’ or ‘falling in love with a guy who doesn’t treat you well’. As a teenager myself, I throughly appreciated the sections ‘High School’ and ‘College and Beyond’. Her experience of working at “South Wedge Florist” is my favourite part of the book.
Emotions are the centre-piece in this book. We get to know about Lara’s career-driven mom, bipolar manic-depressive stepmom, her ‘perverted’ DNA dad (for those of you wondering how the author came into existence), her brother, her friends, her boyfriends, her spouses. All from the POV of Girl, who desperately wants different things at different stages in her life. As a kid, she craves the attention of her mother and hopes for outings at the beach and baking cookies with her. She also wishes that her dad would love her as much as he loves her brother. As a teen, she craves to be accepted by friends and loved by boys, and not being called a lesbian by everyone in every hallway. As an older teen, she craves constancy and desires to be independent of her mom and stepmom and dad. As an adult, she wishes to complete her education and desires to be the mom she wanted to have.
The stigma of having same-sex parents is also a highlight of this book. Since the author’s childhood is majorly based in the pre-2000 era, you are assured of a perspective about lesbian couples over the ages, right upto the date New York state voted to recognise all same-sex marriages performed outside of New York.
A recurring theme in this book that I noticed is this: humans are good, and they can be bad too at the same time. There’s not a single person in this world who is completely good, or completely bad. We all have a dark side, and it’s incorrect for us to judge others or be judged based on our good/dark side.
Reading this book was an emotional experience. It deals with depression: the experience of suffering from depression, as well as the experience of watching someone you love suffer from depression.
Disclaimer: There are graphic scenes of family nudity, sex, drug abuse, self harm in this book.
I give this book a 5/5 star rating, and recommend it to every teenager who needs to believe that however bad things may seem now, it’s okay. Things get better in the future, and if they don’t, you’ll develop the skill set to tackle the bad things anyway.
This book will be released by Skyhorse Publishing on 03rd April 2018.