Malinda Lo returns with her most personal and ambitious novel yet, a gripping story of love and duty set in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the 1950s.
“That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other…Have you ever heard of such a thing?” Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.
I was immediately drawn to this book when I saw the beautiful cover! And then I realized that there were two women in the corner of the cover as well as a review that read, "this book is for anyone who has ever loved--in any sense of the word." SOLD! Yes, I will gladly dive into an LGBTQ+ read about first loves. Especially young, high-school love.
This book has easily become one of my favorites. Malinda Lo takes you on a wild journey that will have you feeling so many emotions and contemplating so much of your own humanity--your capacity to love. I felt like I was there, in San Francisco in the 1950's hoping and wishing that Lily and Kath could love one another freely, but understanding the consequences and pain that would follow if they got caught. Lo's language was brilliant, and as she told this story, I was learning about the Asian American experience, and even moreso, the experience of an Asian American lesbian in the 50's. Lily's journey of self-discovery and sexual desire was so relatable that it hurt. I finished the 400 page-turning book completely gutted, yet hopeful and proud. I was reminded, through the magic of storytelling, of the power of love, of hurt, of youthful impulsions, and of what the LGBTQ+ community had to endure and had to fight for, for us to be here today. Loving freely.
Stop by the store to chat with Alexis to see more of what she is reading. If you'd like to read Last Night at the Telegraph Club and support Beausoleil Books, use the buttons below to purchase through the Bookshop.org and Libro.fm affiliate programs:
Jefferson Street Journal is Beausoleil Books's online blog for book reviews, news, and more!