Sunday, 5 June 2022

Queerly Beloved

Finished May 16
Queerly Beloved by Susie Dumond

This romance novel set in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2013, centers around Amy. Amy's passion is baking, and she has hidden her lesbian identity in order to get a job at the best bakery in town, which is run by a Christian fundamentalist. Amy also has a second job, in the evenings at a gay dive bar, where she can be her real self. Most of Amy's family is also fundamentalist, and her relationships within her family became icy once she came out to them. Her mom, who raised her on her own, is a big support to her, as well as her mom's best friends, a gay couple who are like uncles to her. 
When she is outed at the bakery and then fired from that job, she is understandably upset. Amy has been single for a while and recently met a woman, Charley, who she is drawn to. They have a first date planned for the evening of the day Amy was fired, and she is torn about whether to go. She also has a family wedding around this time, to which she is invited, but placed at a perimeter table. The bride is a cousin that Amy practically grew up with, and the distancing adds to her negative feelings.
When Amy talks with the other guests at her table, she finds potential friends, as well as an odd invitation. She is invited to fill in as a bridesmaid for the couple at her table, who had a last minute situation with one of their bridesmaids unable to attend. 
Amy is a big romantic, a fan of Say Yes to the Dress, and a person who likes to see others happy. She agrees and soon considers taking on "bridesmaid for hire" as a way to earn some extra money. She finds that her skills are a good fit for this: her baking expertise, sewing expertise, and event management skills all prove to be helpful in different situations. But this job provides a new dilemma for Amy as she is still hiding her true self, not out to those who hire her, and sometimes put into very uncomfortable situations. 
This is what I would classify as a Women's Fiction novel, as the major story here is the growth of Amy. She has to struggle through her identify issues, think about what she wants in a life partner, deal with the situation at the time of lesser rights for LGBTQ people, and even about her interactions with family and friends. There is a romance plotline with her and Charley, but that isn't the core focus. We see, through her evening job and some friends, the range of identities and issues in the LGBTQ community and there are multiple views given of these that really help show the frustration that goes along with not having the same rights as cisgender people. 
A book with depth and thought-provoking situations, and an interesting character in Amy. 

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