Lo, Malinda. Last Night at the Telegraph Club. Fiction. Dutton, 01/2021. 394[+16]pp. $18.99. 978-0-525-55525-4. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 9-12.
Malinda Lo skillfully blends themes such as coming-of-age, coming out, and ethnic heritage in this beautifully written historical fiction novel about first love in San Francisco. Protagonist Lily Hu is growing up in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1950s, which also means growing away from her childhood friends and their interests and exploring her own longings and fears that her attraction to other girls is something that will separate her from her home forever. The historical detail in the novel is extensive, including high school politics, queer pulp novels in bookstores, local institutions, and the convoluted and courageous world of San Francisco’s queer bar scene, without minimizing Lily’s well-drawn familial and personal world. The cultural and historical context of the 1950s rings true, as do the personal relationships of the characters who are trying to navigate a changing world. The author’s extensive note and bibliography are a great addition to the book. This book has California-specific content.
Lesley Mandros Bell, Oakland PL Advocates