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Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  95 ratings  ·  46 reviews
An honest, unfiltered memoir about a girl with an unconventional family.
“The story everyone wants to hear isn’t the story I want to tell.” Lara Lillibridge grew up with two moms—an experience that shaped and scarred her at the same time. Told from the perspective of “Girl,” Lillibridge’s memoir is the no-holds-barred account of childhood in an unconventional household.
Hardcover, 282 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Skyhorse
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Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
UPDATE... I had to change my rating to 5 stars. When I first read it I gave it 4 stars -- I was just soooooooo emotional about things in here -- too close to it I guess -- and I love the author --and was almost trying to be 'too fair' in rating it....but I think about this book -often --and the life Lara Lillibridge grew up with. --- I know other people in 'similar' situations --but nothing like this story --. So............I always raise my rating to a book --if it grows 'stronger' for me ...more
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Girlish, Lillibridge’s memoir creatively written in third person, draws you in like an adolescent girl cupping her hand and whispering into your ear. Her childhood was divided. On one hand scraping by with her brother between school bullies, outgrown clothes, a quotidian life, and parental mixed messages in an upstate New York home with her feminist lesbian mother and stepmother—whose undiagnosed bipolar illness creates an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.

On the other hand, “Girl”—as she
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
The things that I loved...
1. books about families and family drama (all families have drama and it makes me feel like we are all on the same playing field in life)
2. I love books about what was happening in a different era (specifically the 80's when I grew up).
3. The author spoke her truth and that is always a good thing.
4. A lot of people can relate to this family for many different reasons.
5. She articulated what is is like to grow up with a family member who has a mental illness and that
Katherine Hayward Pérez
Lara Lillibridge was raised by two mums. She writes in the third person and the memoir is harrowing, detailed and so
well written.

She writes as "Girl" and her accounts of happiness, sadness and the ups and downs of life as well as the personalities and lives of everyone in the book are very honestly portrayed. I especially liked the rapport between her and her brother and their childhood exploits. Be warned though, there are some parts that are graphic sex, nudity abandonment bullying, you name
Jennifer S. Brown
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
Lillibridge may have been raised by two moms, but this memoir is so much more than that. The unique style--Lillibridge writes about herself in the third person, referring to her younger self as "Girl," with occasional chapters ("Notes from the Fourth Wall") in which she observes and comments on the situation from the first person--allowed for a more incisive look, and in brief moments Lillibridge is able to show us the perspective of other members. The third person gives us just enough distance ...more
S.M. Roffey
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Girlish is a poignant memoir that portrays the life of Girl, a child growing up in the home of lesbian mothers in the 1970s, when it wasn’t ok to say you had two moms. Girl’s experiences aren’t seen through the lens of a child of lgbt parents, but rather that of a child of parents, period. With a bi-polar stepmother and a father who lives in Alaska, Girlish is rich with complex emotions and situations that many children of divorced parents are familiar with. But her father’s serial marriages and ...more
Kimmery Martin
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Total honesty is so uncommon among human beings it’s shocking when you encounter it. Lara Lillibridge is that rare individual whose essential nature is such that she tells the truth. It’s not that she possesses unusual confidence; she’s the opposite of a narcissist. She’s real. And her vulnerability in relating a childhood so outside the typical boundaries others experienced is what makes her deeply relatable.

One of the commonalities of childhood is a desire to fit in, to be viewed by your peers
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the interest of full disclosure, Lara is one of my fellow 2018 Debutante Ball members ( I am so grateful to have had the chance to read her memoir in its ARC form.

I absolutely could not manage to put this book down. I read it in two sittings and was consumed by the thought of it between the two. Lillibridge manages to give her reader an unflinching look into a childhood both harrowing and filled with the love of oft-misguided, sometimes mentally ill parents. In many
Crystal King
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
My favorite line from Lillibridge's debut memoir is "Girl was sixteen and trying to grow out her mullet." That was a definite LOL moment for me and I was glad that there were many of those moments, tucked in between a story of growing up in an unconventional home.

This is less a story of having lesbian moms and more about mental illness, about neglect and the challenges of being a kid mixed up in a family with multiple moms (her father was married seven times) and yet, for all those moms,
Rebekah Kuschmider
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is wonderful. But a note to my LGBTQ and allied friends: this is not a story that generalizes about coming from a queer home. This is a very particular story about very particular people. You won’t recognize yourself in these individuals and - those of you who are parents - you won’t recognize your children. This isn’t sociology, it’s memoir and you should read as such. Don’t look for yourself in this book because you aren’t there, I promise. I know because I WAS there (or at least ...more
Maria Leali Sabala
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't normally read memoirs, but I will now. I couldn't put this down. What's most memorable for me is that no matter who our parents are, we all come out of our childhoods a little damaged. That's just part of growing up. No one learns anything from a perfect childhood. A bit of adversity builds character, strength and resilience. This book gives me hope for my own children as I watch them struggle through growing up in two homes.

The story is told from the viewpoint of "Girl," and while her
Amy Eaton
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book meant the world to me having grown up with a Lesbian mother myself. I have never read anything where I was able to see a life that I recognized as similar to my own experience. Being able to see pieces of my own story in Girl's story gave me a validation I hadn't even been aware that I needed.
It is no small feat to cover an entire childhood experience, yet Lillibridge manages it as if you were browsing old family photo albums with her, telling the story in snippets, all of which add up
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir, lgbtq
An utterly compelling narrative! GIRLISH tells a unique story of growing up with lesbian parents, reminding us that while no experience is universal, the challenge of navigating family ties just might be -- no matter what shape that family takes or how it changes over the years. Throughout the book, Lillibridge offers counterpoints to her own memories -- on the one hand, we read the experience, rendered in third-person, a story she tells; on the other, her reflections, written in first person ...more
Christina (Bookwormmommyof3)
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is so different than anything I’ve ever read raw, real, sometimes I’ve cringed, other times chuckled, and just have sat in this amazement. This memoir has literally popped my life bubble. Thank you Andrea Kiliany Thatcher from Smith Publicicity for this quirky and emotional book that is very well written. Thank you to Lara for opening up with such rich and beautiful prose. Anyone that needs a solid memoir, I highly recommend.
Eric Hausman-Houston
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brutally honest! Riveting! Filled with humor, suspense, pathos and hope, Lillibridge, true to character, still breaks the rules. Memoirs are to be written in first person, biographies in third, but ‘Girlish’ is not only a memoir written in third person it actually starts in second, a device I don’t recall experiencing before. Perhaps that originality ads to its effectiveness, but it’s the author’s courage to search for and to tell the truth that makes ‘Girlish’ so powerful. Unlike the typical ...more
K. J. Harrowick
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Why I picked up this book:

OMG… this book! All right, so I met Ms. Lara several months back when she was recommended to me as a Winterviewee ( I may have never looked twice at her book as memoir is not really my thing, but I adore Lara. The more I kept seeing blurbs of her book everywhere, the more I wanted to read it. I was so lucky to get an ARC to read off of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review may contain spoilers.

What I loved:

Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This memoir is written by Lara Lillibridge who grew up with two moms, and she hopes that your view about her story is not affected by this fact. Told from the third person POV of Lara as “Girl”, Girl shares some of her childhood experiences, that most of us have never experienced. For example, have you ever stayed at a summer camp, where everyone and their parents roamed around naked 247? Have you ever travelled unaccompanied as a kid, almost four thousand miles away from home, on a flight, with ...more
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What I love most about Girlish, Lara Lillibridge’s debut memoir, is that it takes me deep into the messy moments of life while also allowing me to stand beside the author as she offers mature insights into the inner-workings of this girl called 'Girl.' Lillibridge names characters by their relationship to herself. Throughout the book, her brother is called 'Brother,' her mom called 'Mother,' and her mom’s partner is 'Stepmother.' This unusual naming choice provides a constant reminder that what ...more
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are some moments in the memoir that could be triggering for some, but it was a powerful account of one woman's experience in a dysfunctional household. They are not dysfunctional because of anyone's sexuality, but because they are painfully human. There are some chapters I couldn't put down and others I had to step away from.

Lara is honest and raw, making you immediately connect with Girl. She admits the struggles she has had through the years with how she views her parents' sexuality, as
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Girlish is a Venn diagram of a book: it's a memoir of growing up hard in the '80's; it's a look at (a specific) Lesbian motherhood and the effect on children of having same-sex parents; it's a look at becoming a mother when you weren't properly parented yourself and it's a "mean mommy" book -- a subgenre that suits a very specific reader (like me).

There's also a genre of "coming up hard" books, and Lara Lillibridge wedges her book onto this shelf. I found myself trying not to judge her too
Martine Watson
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It took very few pages for me to fall in love with this memoir. Although its subject matter—a narrator who refers to herself only as “Girl” growing up in dysfunctional and sometimes abusive relationships with her parents—is hard-hitting, the vivid prose and provocative insights into family and mental illness kept me eagerly turning the pages. I alternately laughed aloud, cringed, and held my breath. Lillibridge truly lays herself bare on the page, and it feels as though she holds nothing back ...more
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a great story. It’s sad to see just what Lara went through growing up in such a messed up home. As if having lesbian parents and having to hide it wasn’t hard enough, she also faces a mentally ill step mother and a very sexually addicted father. She talks about things she seen, went through and the struggles she faced. It was very interesting to read about her life and what Lara over came. Ok sure not all same sex households are the same, as mixed sex households aren’t all the same. This ...more
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding and heartfelt memoir about a girl with an unconventional upbringing. I was surprised by how universally similar rough upbringings can be regardless of how different they are. The narrative is told from an interesting perspective where the protagonist , sans a name, is only referred to as "girl". At first it felt odd, but then it made sense in the context. After all, do we mentally think of ourselves by our names? I won't do a spoiler, but the summation was so worth the ...more
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot. I do feel that the subtitle here of growing up in a lesbian home" sort of misses the point as her parents lesbianism wasn't per se the cause of her crazy upbringing so much as general dysfunction combined with mental illness. I enjoyed the layered structure of the book but I would have found it easier to relate if she had used names and not just generic titles ( girl, mother etc). Still, the book was well-written and a pleasure to read.
My thanks to NetGalley
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In full disclosure, I was an early reader of this book and had the chance to blurb it. But I also wanted to able to share my thoughts as a regular reader, too. I loved this compelling book, its humor, its suspense and, mostly, I love her unique way of telling the story, from the perspective of Girl. Lara writes with such vivid detail that I was completely immersed in this story. This truly is a coming-of-age memoir you won't forget.
Feb 15, 2018 rated it liked it
The one huge thing that jumped out about this book was the main character was never given a name and she always refers to herself as girl and her mother, as mother obviously. But when she says that girl and mother went to a party it kind of makes it hard to get into because I kept feeling, as a reader, that I was missing a large part. I especially didn't like it because this book was a memoir so I know that its about the author's life so I already know her name, so I feel that there was no ...more
I received this book in exchange via netgalley and the publisher in exchange of an honest review.

According to goodreads, it took me exactly 2 months to read Girlish. And the main reason why I’m only putting 3 stars. Let’s say three and a half.
It is a good, honest, raw book.
But everytime I was putting it down, I did not feel like picking it up again.
It was a bit depressing to be honest.

I felt sad, frustrated and angry on behalf of young Girl.
Now, the «notes from the fourth wall», when the
Lisa Ellison
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Funny, quirky, and well written, Girlish chronicles the narrator’s upbringing in an unconventional household and how she comes to understand herself and her complicated relationships with her lesbian parents and serial divorcee father. While she says early on that people think her parents are her most interesting attribute, we quickly learn that’s not true. At times a punk rocker, florist, or conservative Christian, Lillibridge remains the star of her own show. Girlish is filled with delightful ...more
Dina Honour
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading Girlish was like flipping through a photograph album belonging to someone else. It was voyeuristic, at turns titillating and humorous, but always leaving you with the feeling you'd perhaps seen something you were not meant to--though nothing was included by accident. At times the pictures formed by Lillibridge were vibrant and sharp enough to cut, other times fuzzy and nostalgic, like time itself. Girl's voice matured over the course of the book, like Girl herself; a neat trick of ...more
Taryn P
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lara Lillibridge takes an intimate and honest approach to documenting family dynamics in her debut novel, Girlish. Set uniquely from the third person perspective (rarely seen in a memoir), Lillibridge lets the audience privy to her childhood, of not just growing up with a lesbian mother and her wife, but a whole other realm concerning her abusive father. While reading, I’ve felt that the title pigeonholed the book, as it was about so much more than growing up in a lesbian household. Lillibridge ...more
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Lara Lillibridge sings off-beat and dances off-key. She writes a lot, and sometimes even likes how it turns out.

She is the author of two memoirs, Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home, Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards Finalist (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018) and Mama, Mama, Only Mama (Skyhorse Publishing, 2019).

Lara Lillibridge is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College’s MFA program in
“It seems like there is no way to just write your story without becoming someone's poster child. You are not just your own voice, your own history--rather you carry the expectations of both extremes.” 1 likes
“The problem with having a family made up of friends is that once they decided to leave, you didn’t run into them at weddings and funerals. Once they left, you never saw them again.” 1 likes
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