Some kids’ heads are in the clouds. Harriet Little’s head is in outer space.
In 1950s America, everyone is expected to come out of a cookie-cutter mold. But Harriet prefers the people who don’t, like her communist-sympathizer father and her best friend Jackie, a tomboy who bucks the school dress code of skirts and blouses in favor of T-shirts and blue jeans. Harriet realizes she’s also different when she starts to swoon over Rosemary Clooney instead of Rock Hudson—and finds Sputnik and sci-fi more fascinating than sock hops.
Before long, Harriet is secretly dating the most popular girl in the school. But she soon learns that real love needs a stronger foundation than frilly dresses and feminine wiles.
Janelle Reston lives on a lake with her partner and their black cats. She loves watching Battlestar Galactica and queering gender. Her work has been featured in Best Women's Erotica, Volume 2; Best Lesbian Erotica, Volume 2; and the 2018 Lambda Literary Award Finalist Unspeakably Erotic. You can keep up with her at www.janellereston.com.
Disclaimer: Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Short novella following Harriet and Jackie, exploring their sexuality and gender stereotypes in the 1950’s after Second World War.
I love this book because:
↣IT WAS HELLA CUTE!
Do I even need to say anything else? There was this scene where they were reading Charlotte's web and it was SO CUTE.
This is an f/f romance. I want to assume both of the mc’s identified as lesbians because they never mentioned being attracted to the opposite sex. I freaking loved how this author showed us how the attraction to Harriet progressed over time, starting with just thinking it was jealousy, to wanting to touch the female body, to actually realize she was only attracted to females. I also feel it was a fresh view to break stereotypes. It shows not all lesbians are tomboys or are attracted to more masculines girls. Or that just because you dress in a masculine way it doesn’t mean you hate being a woman. Oh, and we have family support.
It wasn’t that explicit but the fact they talked about is a great thing to highlight as not many books do it. I mean honestly, can we stop pretending we don’t go to a period were our body bleeds and our hormones are all over the place? SERIOUSLY. I think I have seen more the morning wood than periods.
↣WW2 post life.
As this is kind of historical fiction because is set in the 1950’s the author made a great job always reminding us that subtly.
Gender roles in terms of what we wear was a great point in this book. Honestly, this quote really touched me: “I’m a girl. Whatever clothes I wear, that makes the girls’ clothes. Because I’m a girl. That’s what my mom says, and I think she’s right.”
It was a light story, not heart-wrenching and I think sometimes we need this in LGBTQIA books.
It wasn’t a love at first sight or anything like that. We follow the characters through different periods in their lives and how their relationship evolved.
Wish it was better:
↣More depth but as is just a short novella it was cool
So yeah if you are looking for more F/F books, this is a cute, fluffy novella I recommend.
This is a truly beautiful novella written from the point of Harriet who recounts her experience of growing up and coming of age in the post WWII McCarthy era. She recalls seeing Jackie for the first time when she is eight and starts at her school but is dressed as a boy. Harriet questions why she’s dressed as a boy and she responds, “I’m a girl. Whatever clothes I wear, that makes them girls’ clothes. Because I’m a girl. That’s what my mom says, and I think she’s right.” From then on they become firm friends, perhaps seeing a likeness in each other.
Harriet’s self-realisation doesn’t come as easily as Jackie’s, perhaps because she because she comes from more traditional family - with a small hint of subversiveness. Her father holds the unpopular (and dangerous for the time) belief that the Russians have better things to do with their time than drop bombs on the US. His opinions are measured even though there is an indication that he is suffering from PTSD. He has a great support of his daughter which is beautiful and heart-warming. Adult opinions are portrayed in the fuzzy bite-sized pieces that a child might see them and then with greater clarity as Harriet ages.
Jackie is a wonderful character with strong sense of self and a ton of common sense. Her mother was a mechanic during the war and opened an auto shop after the war needing to support the family when her husband and Jackie’s father was killed by the Germans. She wears what she is comfortable and hold opinions that aren’t necessarily acceptable. Harriet is drawn to feminine women and doesn’t see Jackie as more that a friend she can hold a conversation with.
In spite of its length (easily read in two hours) Tomboy is clearly located in history by the references to movies, TV shows, politics and fashion. There is a gentleness that runs through the story with moments of poignancy as well as happiness. I was very moved by the story and highly recommend it.
Book received from Netgalley for an honest review.
This is such a very sweet and beautiful love story, setting the bar high for lesfic and making me wish more of the genre was as gentle and as gorgeous as this is. My only complaint is that it had to end.
So I couldn't read anything for the last two weeks thanks to my exams. And when exams were finally done, I needed major therapy. I had recieved a copy of this book from the publisher almost a week ago and boy was I excited to read this. This is a story set in the late 1950s if I'm not wrong. One of the protagonist is the titular tomboy, while the other lead is the confused girl coming to terms with herself. The story is quite believable and I loved how neither of the characters made a big deal out of their sexuality. They fell in love and acted upon it which is how it ought to be.
The best part about this novella was that there was no bullying or name-calling. I mean, since it was set in the 1950s you'd think there'd be rampant homophobia but no! I was kinda happy to be proven wrong (lol) Anyway it's a very cute story about sexuality and coming to terms with it and will surely leave you with a smile on your face when you're done with it. PS Harriet's dad is amazing. If only all parents were like him :)
This is one of my favorite lesfic works of 2018 so far, and definitely my favorite YA read. I intended to read it throughout a day, but I finished it in one sitting. Despite its short length, this feels like a contained love story that has us rooting for an unconventional couple from the first chapter.
Reston’s author bio at the end of the book says she enjoys “queering gender,” and that is very apparent in this story. It would be easy to write Harriet and Jackie off as a traditional butch/femme couple, but there’s a lot more going on underneath the surface (not that there’s anything wrong with butch/femme dynamics). This story takes our long-held conceptions of gender in lesbian relationships and forces us to see it in new ways—for example, having two femme girls fall for each other, or having a butch woman carry a child and be a nurturing mother. This would be groundbreaking in many books today, so it’s especially interesting to read in the context of 1950’s postwar America.
I like how this story takes place in what was a very tragic time period for so many gay and lesbian folks without it being a tragic story. And characters acknowledge and accept Harriet and Jackie’s relationship in ways realistic for them at the time. For example, Harriet’s World War II veteran father recalls “men who went home together” after the war, allowing him to relate to his daughter through his own lens. The reactions and prejudices they face feel very real.
One of my favorite things about this story is how the less glamorized aspects of the 1950’s are included. It wasn’t all poodle skirts and milkshakes, and Reston is sure to acknowledge the inherent sexism and homophobia of the era. There are also those cringe-worthy parts we all want to forget, such as vegetables in Jell-O, atomic attack drills, and period belts.
Harriet’s passion for her career at NASA is a nice touch, but it also makes me wish Reston tackled the racism of the era as well, especially after we’ve all read or seen Hidden Figures and know how black women were especially overlooked in the field. Reston is a very a talented author, so I wish she found a way to touch on that very timely topic in this work.
I was surprised by how quickly I fell into this book and finished it. It’s a lovely romance that will take hold of you, but it’s also a fantastic historical read on gender roles and expectations.
A wonderful quick read about gender stereotypes, sexuality and finding out that love has been in front of your face the whole time... It’s a really sweet, light, quick read which will definitely warm your heart. Though extremely short, it definitely packs a punch and covers some really important, vital topics in a wonderful way. I found this insightful, interesting, diverse and interesting to read. Though short, I didn’t find it lacking in substance. I often find that with shorter reads I feel a little bit lost in the story because there isn’t much happening or not much has been built on, but the author gets it spot on for this one - the back story is built as it develops and the characters develop quickly also; the dialogue isn’t excessive and it’s just enough to feel like a story with a strong substance. The subject matter is intrinsic, and I think that definitely enhanced the story. Such a well thought out, developed, strong and interesting story is woven in the small space - don’t be put off by its length! It’s definitely got enough in there to draw you in and to leave you clawing for more!
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is a very well written and utterly adorable novella, tracing not only the lives of Jackie and Harriet as they grow from eight year olds into young women, but also American culture and society in the 1950s.
Both characters are incredibly vivid and their behaviour as young children and emotional turmoil (damn you Mandy) as teenagers is very real and recognisable. This is also a book full of hope as we see in the latter stages, which I'm not going to spoil, but the sky is the limit for these wonderful women.
Something that particularly pleased me was that Jackie didn't strictly conform to a butch or tomboy stereotype, she chooses to wear a dress to a school-mate's birthday party as she likes how the material feels and unlike the more traditionally feminine Harriet, teenage Jackie expresses the desire to carry a child.
Thanks to net galley.com, Janelle Reston and NineStar Press, LLC for the advance copy for my honest review.
I never really was a huge fan of short stories, till the late Marina Keegan made me realize I was missing out on some really good writing.
Not a bad read, Janelle Reston packs a lot into this one, easily could have been developed into a series verse being really a 50 page outline. As Harriet tells her story, of growing up in the 50's dealing with gender stereotyping, sexuality and liking females.
You can't help but like both Harriet and Jackie, they met at the age 8 in school, grew up together as friends, came from different family types, even back in 50's and it gives the story credibility.
It's after World War 2, the cold war between the US and Russia is going on, Sputnik the first man-made satellite has bee put into space and the Kids even at school have practice drills should Russia fire missiles at them.
The author even cleverly has several 50's TV shows making cameo appearances into the 'Tomboy' storyline, along with the Dennis the Menace comic strip, then Harriet with her friend Mandy write and receive autographed photo's from iconic singer Rosemary Clooney and actress Amanda Blake of Gunsmoke fame.
For me, Vanda's Juliana series, really hurt my liking this one, not for it being bad but rather it's easy to see that 'Tomboy' easily could have been expanded into full novel or made into a really good series. Let the reader really get to know Harriet and Jackie better.
Since when you read, 'Tomboy', you want more than just a short story and giving this one 4 stars.
ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Sidebar but on twitter the other day, I saw a post begging for a light rom-com type story featuring lesbians. The original tweet made the point that minorities get books about issues, whereas everyone else gets exciting fantasy and sci-fi, historical and contempory stories. (They definitely have a point. Not all stories featuring LGBTQIA+ characters should be about the struggle for identity and equality. Sometimes they should just be stories that happen to feature queer characters. Fiction is definitely a good place to start redressing the balance on what is normal. By always making those books about ‘issues’, you always equate a minority character with their minority.)
I think the original author of that post would probably like and approve of this book.
This is a really sweet coming of age novella set in a post WWII McCarthy era America. We are told the story from Harriet’s POV from the moment she meets Jackie, aged eight, throughout their lives together. While it definitely touches on discovering what you really want out of life and love, this is not a coming out story. It also touches on gender stereotyping, sexism, inequality and family dynamics, not to mention PTSD, but this isn’t a book about any of those issues either. This is a light romance that doesn’t ignore the world it is set in but also doesn’t go deep because that’s not what the story is about. Take it on those terms and you’ll be fine. I love the fact that lesbian stereotypes are explored and largely debunked here. I also really enjoyed the gradual build of the main relationship. No instalove here but a dawning understanding on Harriet’s part. It’s a short book – I read it in an hour - but the historical detail and characterisation make it a satisfying read.
I notice another reviewer has called it out for having a ‘Nazi-sympathiser’ as the MC’s father. This is utterly untrue. I just want to make that clear – I don’t think that reviewer can have read the book properly. Harriet’s father fought in WWII and feels bad that he was required to kill anyone (Not all the Germans were Nazis or Nazi sympathisers either). It’s more a passing reference to the fact that he feels all life has value, which is very inkeeping for someone who is revealed to be a very broad minded character. Jackie’s father was killed in action in WWII but she makes the point at least twice that the Germans didn’t kill her father, evil did. I genuinely don’t know where accusations of a Nazi sympathiser character can have come from. The other thing I would refute is that there is a sneering denigration towards anything feminine here. It’s patently untrue. It’s merely that in 1950s dress codes for school were a lot more conservative, especially for girls. (To be honest girls regularly being allowed to wear trousers at school didn’t change here in the UK until the mid to late 90s, so a normal amount of perspective on this would be appreciated.) Harriet is never sneering at traditionally feminine stuff and quite often she really likes seeing it on other women, it’s just not something she personally wants to wear. Her interests lean more towards maths, science and engineering – the point being that these things are not gendered unless you decide they are and then it’s you narrowing the field!
My one niggle with this novella is that it is very much all told rather than shown. It’s a period drama fairytale with a Sapphic love story. I really enjoyed it but I can see that those who’d prefer more lyrical prose or exploration of issues, more ‘show’ might find it irritating. That said I highly recommend it for those wanting a F/F romance.
This is a quick read, perfect for a quiet morning with a cup of tea. It's a sweet, gentle story about self-discovery and realizing the love you've been waiting for has been there all along. Both Harriet, the narrator, and Jackie, her best friend, are the kind of role models girls of any orientation could use. They're smart and interesting and unafraid of having opinions that go against the grain. It's a joy to see their friendship blossom and then bloom into something more.
This story is very low on angst or drama. The tension doesn't come from Harriet's secret relationship with a popular girl nor even from romantic pining. The girls' families are supportive, more or less, and it makes sense in context. It's refreshing to read a story where the primary conflict isn't over their gender or orientation.
The girls in this story are all a product of their times, and I even found myself sympathetic to the girl who breaks Harriet's heart. She, too, is expected to live inside a tidy box, to the point she's not willing or able to understand herself. We don't really get to see closure to her story, but a part of me wonders how she turns out in the end.
All in all, this is a terrific story for any (read: every) girl who feels the tension between what society expects and what she wants. What a lovely book.
For girls who break molds, well-researched historical details, and a story I'd give to my daughter, this gets 5 stars.
This book is a lesbian romance and coming of age story about young Harriet Little and tomboy Jackie Auglaize. The path is not quite smooth for either of them however, as Harriet is not always sure what she wants.
The 1950s are maybe the most heavily stereotyped decade of the previous century, and it is difficult to write about them without an over-larding of negative stereotypes or the sickly scent of “Happy Days” nostalgia. Janelle Reston, however, has avoided both extremes with a portrait of two young people caught in the tensions of the time.
The portrayal of Jackie is one of the strongest parts of the book. As a child she is described as looking like “Dennis the Menace.” There is subtlety in the nature of her gender, however, and in what it is that attracts Harriet to her. Yes, Jackie is a Tomboy, and yes, she is a mechanic, working on Volkswagens at a time others might have looked askance at them because of their association with the recently defeated Nazi regime, but this is no over-simplified girl-in-pants character.
From the first page to the end the pacing is very good. It might slow down just a tad around the middle, but it picks up again without much delay, and on the whole is handled very skillfully. And this is just what is needed as Harriet’s desires turn this way and that between Jackie and her rival, Mandy Pinkerton.
I loved this book so much and the more i think about it, the more i love it! The two main characters were written really well and i felt like they grew so much from when we meet them as children in the beginning to the beautiful passionate lovers they become. The way that Reston wrote made the locations came alive and the way that she made the 50s seem was great. The only thing that means i can't give it the full five stars is that it was too short and i feel like it could be developed into a full length novel by Reston.
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I'm not sure what's more distasteful here - that the MC PREFERS her Nazi-sympathizer father (you know, the people who would definitely send a lesbian to the gas chambers) to other people, or all the femme bashing in this book. All the 'prefers sci-fi to sockhops' and 'it will take more than frilly dressed and feminine wiles' bullshit.
Like, no thank you. I don't need to trash other women's wants and interests to build myself up, and I sure as fuck don't want to relate to a character who thinks it's okay her father sides with Nazis.
A quick read and a good story. Keep in mind that it is set in the 50s and 60s and gender rules were pretty set in their ways back then and I think the author does a fine job of sharing them with us. My only issue is with Harriet’s father. Not with his beliefs that communists (Russians) weren’t as bad as everyone was making them out to be in the McCarthy era, but rather with the ease and understanding of his daughter being a lesbian. That just doesn’t ring true for me. Just because he is open minded about communism doesn’t mean he would be about his baby girl’s lesbianism. However, this does allow the author the wrap it all up in a pretty little bow.
This is a cute f/f romance story set in the Cold War era, and is between Harriet who is interested in STEM fields grow up from childhood to adulthood, and Jackie who dresses up like a ‘tomboy’, as in, not the feminine norms of the era. Their relationship is shown progressing from childhood, to adolescence when Harriet is crushing on another girl who is she is seeing secretly, to her realizing she liked Jackie all along, and them growing up and growing old together, and while it is short, it develops their relationship very well. The story provides wlw representation, obviously, but also challenges conformity and the whole butch-femme thing that is stereotypical of what is perceived as lesbian culture. Jackie dresses up in whatever clothes she feels comfortable which can be pants or dresses, according to her mood, and Harriet goes on to become a (human) computer for NASA. Also, there is no homophobia? Like, even Harriet’s family is totally cool about it and there is a moment with her dad where he accepts her without any questions or reservations - that was nice because it is a break from the expected homophobia in historical fiction.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from NineStar Press, via Netgalley.
It’s never easy to start with an author you’ve not read before. It takes time to settle into their style and there is a certain trepidation you may not even like them.
It took a page and a half with Janelle Reston’s new book, Tomboy, to know I already cared about her characters and would want to read more of her stories.
We find our girls, Harriet (the narrator) and the new student in school, Jackie, forming a lifelong bond from the first day of 4th grade some time in the 1950s, and then watch as they grow towards adulthood, in and out of each others’ lives.
There were stereotypes and opinionated people like any other era but Jackie doesn’t take any of that on board and Harriet watches and learns from Jackie’s life, sometimes from afar.
Eisenhower’s post WW2 America turns out to be an exciting time for Harriet, who is interested in more than finding herself a husband and this story is sweet, well written and, unlike other historical stories I’ve read, the author is able to blend her research (news stories and the music of the day) in a way that did not grate on my nerves.
I did find it slightly surprising that the adults weren’t caught up in any bitterness so soon after the end of the war.
Janelle captures a certain vagueness of Harriet’s old memories, where the narrator knows the outcome but can’t remember all the details of how it got to that point. I enjoyed this honest approach as that is how memories work in my mind!
She perfectly describes the safest, most cuddly coming out a character ever had. In her Daddy’s knowing arms, with nothing but love and support.
Harriet’s charm bracelet is ever present and it represents her growing up, as she adds charms to it through birthday and holiday presents, then keeps only the ones most important to her.
Jackie wears self assuredness as naturally as she wears whatever clothes she happens to shrug on that day, never caring what anyone thinks of her, which endeared her to me greatly. She manages to do this without being confrontational to anyone in her life.
My favourite part of the book is where Jackie cuts down any controversy of her wearing boys’ clothes by saying:
“I’m a girl. Whatever clothes I wear, that makes them girls’ clothes. Because I’m a girl. That’s what my mom says, and I think she’s right.”
Janelle leads you through their years together, ending with a hint at an inevitable conclusion to the girls’ relationship.
The heroine of the story, for me, has to be Jackie’s Mum, who is only mentioned in passing. If it hadn���t have been for her sensible handling of a young tomboy, with absolutely no negative reaction, both Jackie and Harriet’s lives would have turned out completely differently.
Harriet’s Dad then takes over as our hero in her teenage years.
It is lovely to find a book with the support of the characters’ families firmly in place - without question, even if it is a tad unrealistic for that era. So many of the lesfic novels I read have plots revolving around the strife of non-supportive parents and this was a refreshing change.
I’d like to hand it back to Janelle and say “Loved it, now go make it a full length novel.” I really think these girls have a whole lot more stories in them than just this one.
I’m also going to hunt Mrs Baumgartner down and punch her on the nose.
I wasn’t prepared to love this novella as much as I do. I received this as an ARC and I think the universe can work in mysterious ways. I think I read this at the perfect time.
Harriet’s coming of age, told from her point of view, warmed my insides. Reading this brought back memories of hiding away in the library to read Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters. There is something about discovering oneself that is full of nostalgia, and dang does Tomboy deliver.
I wasn’t alive in the era this book is set, but I have read and watched enough about the time period to appreciate what a nuanced portrayal it is. The characters are compelling, the story is uplifting, and it walks that perfect balance of a satisfying story but still leaves you wishing it didn’t have to end. Even the long shot happy ending seemed so fitting.
***spoilers*** Harriet’s friend and future love interest, Jackie, is so swoon worthy. She is so matter of fact and quietly beautiful, as is their love story. How perfect to start at the early days of primary school and take them through 60 years. I appreciated the story is front loaded with growing up, coming of age, coming out to themselves, each other, and a select few family members & friends. Getting glimpses as they age that they really did get lucky and find the one is enough for me. It is the subtlety that wins the day. Truly great writing, fantastic discovery of self and a constant pushback and questioning of gender norms and expectations that seem to be alive and well even 60 years later.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Tomboy is a short but sweet, dare I say gentle, novella about two young girls. One is the tomboy in the title, and one comes from a "traditional" family. The story is told through Harriet's eyes as she compares her upbringing and beliefs with those of Jackie, who is allowed to wear clothes more suited for a boy. Her mum isn't exactly 'normal' though, and this great attitude has rubbed of onto Jackie. We meet them as young children, and stay with them as they progress through school, until they've been to college.
This novella skips along quite merrily with the transitions from one age to the next being absolutely seamless. Jackie always knows (or at least that's the impression I got) who she is, and what she wants, whereas Harriet isn't too sure, and does some experimenting before coming to her senses. Rich in the history of the time, with references to films and actors that I loved, we see the support Harriet gets from her dad, the unusual attitude of Jackie's mum, and also mentions of the cold war. I found this to be an absolutely fascinating read, and loved every moment.
With no editing or grammatical errors to disrupt my reading flow, the time spent in this book sped by all too quickly. However, it has certainly given me another author to follow! A wonderful book that I would highly recommend.
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and my comments here are my honest opinion. *
This was a really cute novella. It was more of a long short story than an actual novel, though a lot of time (from age 8 all the way through the MC's teenage years) was covered in the 50 pages.
It read a lot like a lesbian version of 1950s TV shows... Leave it to Beaver, Dennis the Menace, Father Knows Best. The MC was unsurprised to find that she had feelings for her girls, and no one else really made a huge fuss about it either. Some people knew the truth about her and others didn't, and that was that. There was a simplistic treatment of gender and gender roles in lesbian relationships, and lots of fun references to jello salad (who knew people used to make it with vegetables in it!) and other time period things.
It was basically a really sweet, very surface lesbian love story that was firmly rooted in a certain period of time, which is a lot of what gave it its charm. Did any lesbian in the 1950s actually have a similar relatively easy, self-directed, self-actualizing experience? I don't know. But (unlike when authors make black and white teenage girls fall in love in the Jim Crow south because I find that highly problematic in certain ways) I don't actually care, because wouldn't it have been wonderful if they had?
I was really excited to get an advanced copy of this book because we so rarely get lesbian stories featuring characters in different time periods and the 50's are definitely a fun era. I enjoyed the fact that the space race was included as well, but I couldn't help but feel (like I often do with historical fiction) was kind of tossing historical facts and references at us in a way that doesn't really feel like it was a result of a natural conversation, even if one of the characters had an interest in space herself. I enjoyed the fact that their were no strict, limited or cliched butch/femme roles and the characters wanted to live their lives as equals, but I did think the characters got together a bit too quickly without much in the way of build up before the story jumped to another point in their lives.
I get that the novella length probably had a lot to do with that but it all felt a bit bare bones and rushed to get to the next scene/point in the character's lives (since this story does follow them to old age). It was a fun, quick read and I did like that it didn't deal with a lot of dwelling/internal angst over their sexuality but I guess I was just hoping for a bit more detail so I could feel more of an attachment to the characters.
“The first time I saw Jackie, I thought she was a boy.”
Tomboy is a very sweet and delightful love story set in post-war America, following Harriet’s growing up and the gradually blossoming relationship between two school friends. Harriet is frustrated by the rigid expectations of the times and is more interested in space travel than in boys, make-up and marriage. And as time goes on, she also finds herself drawn to glamorous, very feminine screen and music stars - and to Mandy, the prettiest girl in the school. The tomboyish Jackie, while a good friend, holds no romantic interest for her... at least, not initially.
It’s a coming of age story with a strong sense of the era - Sputnik, McCarthyism, Gunsmoke - and a welcome avoidance of stereotype.
Both girls are very fortunate to have parents - Harriet’s father, Jackie’s mother - who love and accept them as they are. There are some very moving moments involving Harriet’s father, in particular.
It’s a little idealised at times. But sometimes, that’s okay.
Beautifully written and genuinely touching - I loved it.
*I was given a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair review
What an enjoyable read. The story line encourages you to remenise back to a time when your thoughts and feelings about girls and where it all sat in the world were starting to emerge. The author delves around those tender feelings and awful hurts that we have all been through and I thoroughly enjoyed the early part of this novella for that reason. The second part appears a little rushed with not enough depth provided into life after school and the angst that arises from the difficulties of separation, to not being able to find work or the harshness of the world in which a smart female resides when working in a mans world. This novella could be fleshed out to so much more if it only expanded to include the multiple layers of life that were Harriet and Jackie. This does not distract from what the novella is though and I restate what I said at t beginning, this is an enjoyable read.
This is a cute short story/novella, but it's really one that could have benefited from the full scale novel treatment. At fifty pages, spanning nearly 70 years between the two characters, it's quite ambitious and also sparse in terms of character development or arcs. The coming of age story in a post-World War 2 America between two young girls is interesting, but I found myself more interested in the history and how that time period would impact their thinking and relationship. With just a few changes to famous actors and basic historical event descriptions, this story could also have taken place during present day and I don't think that is supposed to be the intention. I think a fifty page prequel encompassing just the meeting in grade school between the two girls would have been a nice place to stop and tease a full length drawn out novel. Oh well, maybe it's coming--but if it's not, this is still a cute story and worth the hour or two of reading.
This books spans many decades, beginning in the 1950s when Jackie, the tomboy, enters a new school and catches the attention of Harriett, who narrates the book. Their friendship and eventual relationship is described during their grade school and high school years in some detail. Then things speed up considerably through to the present era.
The earlier chapters are sweet and interesting though a bit too stereotypic of what we'd expect from a 1950s childhood of hiding under desks to avoid nuclear bombs, and fearing The Reds. Harriett is a bright girl who seems to have little trouble accepting her own lesbianism and Jackie is a feminist ahead of her time.
The time span of the book is too long for such a short novel and much of the last third is telling not showing.
Dnf. It just didnt read like a historical novella, and the pace was all over the place. There was some truly nonsensical behaviour in the start of the book that threw me off the rhytm and I never managed to get into it
(The behaviour being that a mother lets her young daughter go to school on the first day of school year, in the deep american south in the 50s, with short hair and male clothes, causing the girl to be removed from the class and forcefully changed into more "feminine" clothes. I get that this was to show that shes a tomboy/future butch, but this would be so??? Traumatizing???? To the poor girl???? And it happened immediatelly at the start of the day?? Youre telling me a supposedly loving mother would not realize that this would happen??? Ugh. It felt so horrible to read)
I don’t know what to think about Tom Boy by Janelle Reston. I read this last night and I’m still not sure what to think. It was meant to be short and sweet. I could see shades of that in this but it felt too much like fanfiction to me. It was like I was supposed to know who Harriet and Jackie were already but I didn’t. And there wasn’t enough happening that I knew anything about either of them. There is so much potential for this story. I just felt like I was given a teaser of the scenes that would make up a larger novel.
I was looking over the list of NetGalley books I had not reviewed and saw this one. I picked it up not knowing that it was a scant fifty-pages long and devoured it in one sitting. The story takes our protagonists from childhood to the winter of their lives and it is incredibly sweet and cute. This is the book I have been craving since I finished Leah on the Offbeat. I see that the author mostly writes lesbian erotica, which I may check out in the future, but any other love story she publishes will be purchased and read immediately.
How many who grew up during those years wanted to be like Jackie, or wanted to kiss her. But more than that, what would it have been like to have a parent like Harriet's dad to encourage us to be able to do or be whatever we wanted when we grew up. Reston truly captures the experience of growing up as a girl in the 1950's and 1960's. A story of young love, hope, and forever love. A good read worthy of an afternoon.