**I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you, Park Row Books!). These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**
Book: Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
Release Date: February 23, 2021
My Rating: 3.75 stars
Rep: ownvoices Black lesbian protagonist, Japanese-American lesbian love interest, Black side characters, Afro-Dominican-American side character, wlw side character, Indian-American side characters, Native American (?) trans side character
CW: depression, anxiety, mentions of a character’s previous self-harm
Summary: A refreshingly timely and relatable debut novel about a young woman whose life plans fall apart when she meets her wife.
With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.
This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her father’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.
In New York, she’s able to ignore all the annoying questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.
SONG OF THE DAY:
“ROYL” by Chloe x Halle
I’ve been so excited for Honey Girl since it was announced, especially because it was comped to Red, White & Royal Blue with a lesbian Black protagonist! I am a firm believer of the new adult category, so I was very interested to read this book. Honey Girl is a story of healing and contemplation after a life of nonstop work.
Grace Porter has always grown up with a life plan set out by her ex-military father, one that she’s stuck to adamantly with few exceptions. That is, until she wakes up in Las Vegas married to Yuki, a woman she met the night before. They part ways, and Grace returns home only to feel more and more stifled by her life, especially with few career prospects. She calls Yuki and, after a fight with her father, impulsively decides to move to New York City where Yuki lives. There, she begins to contemplate her life more, deciding whether or not she’s truly happy and how she can begin to be.
Before I begin my thoughts, let me start by saying that this is not a romance genre book; instead, it’s a coming-of-age novel with a romance. Honey Girl depicts the comedown of millennial burnout, so to speak. Grace has lived a non-stop life because she’s never allowed herself to take a break. Eventually though, her exhaustion catches up to her.
Meeting Yuki was a catalyst to this, yes, but I’m not saying it was any one event that brought her down. Rather, it was a series of events over years that piled up until one day she had enough. It was really interesting to see Grace realizes that she needs to stop because she doesn’t know how to be happy anymore; I’m not sure another book has quite captured this experience, especially as a Black lesbian woman in a male- and white-dominated field.
She has a great support system throughout the book too; I really liked the cast of characters, who were all also LGBTQ+ and/or a person of color. Her friends are ones she considers family, and then she goes to New York and becomes close to Yuki and her friends. The bonds Grace has with her friends are so tightly knit, and I really loved seeing their dynamic.
Again, this isn’t a romance genre book so it’s not super heavy on the romance after a certain part. That being said, I did love Yuki and how she helps Grace grow. They have such a soft love and I couldn’t help but smile at their scenes.
Honey Girl is a story of burnout: when you realize that you’re not happy and that you haven’t been happy in a long time and the journey to healing and finding happiness again. Grace’s character arc is so well-written, and I really liked the characters. If you want a f/f new-adult read with a found family of LGBTQ+ people of color, I can’t recommend Honey Girl enough.
About the Author: Morgan is a queer millennial from Baltimore writing about queer millennials. She has a dog and a cat and dreams about one day owning a farm with horses and goats and chickens. Music is her biggest creative inspiration. Honey Girl is her first novel.