Queerly Beloved, we are gathered here today...
Queerly Beloved is the perfect book to read to get in the mood for Wedding Season!
Amy, a semi-closeted queer baker living in Oklahoma, is outed at work and fired from her ultra-Christian baking job at Daily Bread. Forced to think on her feet in the hopes of saving herself from having to move back in with her mother, she’s presented with the opportunity to be a Bridesmaid-For-Hire. Needing the quick cash, Amy says yes and quickly realizes that not only is she good at juggling the needs of a worried bride, but she enjoys being able to save the day. Could she make this skill into a full-time job? You’ll have to read to find out!
“Being closeted at work and hiding relationships from her family had turned Amy into quite the accomplished liar. Sometimes she put so much energy into being whoever she thought the people around her wanted her to be that she couldn’t tell if there was any true “Amy” underneath it all.”
Susie Dumond’s book “Queerly Beloved” reminds me that not all people are afforded the privilege to be their most authentic selves in their everyday lives. I’m very open about my sexuality, and I’m very lucky to live in a part of the world where it’s safe for my partner and I to be out in public. Being able to be my authentic self and not hide is a true privilege, and it’s easy to forget that there are so many other people across the country and the world who aren’t afforded that luxury.
“Amy hated the idea that ‘coming out’ was a once-and-done event, that you’re either out or you’re not. Every time she made a new acquaintance or engaged in small talk with a stranger, she had to decide if, when, and how she would come out to them.”
While it’s fantastic that LGBTQ+ people are finding more and more representation in novels, most of the queer novels coming out (no pun intended) seem to focus on an already out character or a relationship development plot. At least, those are the ones I’ve been seeing recently. Reading “Queerly Beloved” reiterates to me that there is a need for more diversity in our novels, including but not limited to ethnicity, location, and socio-economic status. There are more stories that need to be told.
“Queerly Beloved” addresses important topics so the format of the novel is important. It should balance between informational and entertaining. My one critique of the layout and format is that a lot of the paragraphs were longer and dense. Longer paragraphs are okay when mixed in with banter and dialogue. In this story, the prose is heavier than the dialogue. There is a benefit to more prose – readers can immerse themselves in Amy’s perspective. She’s very introspective and ruminates on her choices and feelings throughout the story, which is very important since the story is written in 3rd person.
The drawback, though, is that with longer paragraphs and less dialogue there aren’t many other ways to get the other characters’ reactions or be provided with plot progression. There seems to be more “tell” and less “show”.
“Queerly Beloved” sneaks up on you. At first it seems like you’re just reading an LGBTQ romance, but the layers of socio-politics, safety, and security that are embedded between the romance are just as, if not more, engaging. The relationship development between Amy and Charley is the hook to draw you in, but the diamond in the rough is the undercurrent of navigating life as an LGBTQ person in a place where it’s not comfortable to do so.
I would encourage Dumond to lean in further to the Midwest and middle America dynamics and push the envelope. Give us more! More romance, more drama, more perspectives. There are a lot of LGBTQ Americans who could benefit from seeing their own representation on the page, and more allies to offer their support.
Finished with Queerly Beloved and looking for other LGBTQ LitBuzz book reviews?
Lorynn reviewed “She Gets The Girl” by Rachel Lippincott and Alyson Derrick. 5 stars!
I reviewed “Count Your Lucky Stars” by Alexandria Bellefleur. Another 5 stars!