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Upright Women Wanted

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  1,022 ratings  ·  309 reviews
In Upright Women Wanted, award-winning author Sarah Gailey reinvents the pulp Western with an explicitly antifascist, near-future story of queer identity.

"That girl's got more wrong notions than a barn owl's got mean looks."

Esther is a stowaway. She's hidden herself away in the Librarian's book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her--a
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by
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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,022 ratings  ·  309 reviews

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Chaima ✨ شيماء
Oh, to be a queer Librarian spy on horseback fighting fascism and finding camaraderie, love and purpose....

This was so good. Full review to come.
Emily (emilykatereads)
Dec 18, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: anticipated-2020
“be gay, do crimes, circulate books”

is tor pandering to me
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
Dec 11, 2018 marked it as tbr-unreleased
"The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing. " OH WOW CATCH ME CRYING FRIENDS
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
After watching her best friend/secret love of her life hang for possessing "unapproved materials" (resistance propaganda), Esther learns her high-ranking government official father has arranged for her to marry the man who was engaged to her dead lover.

It's time for Esther to make an escape and she does so by hiding in a librarian's book wagon. She's spent her entire life pretending to be someone else in order to survive in a fascist society. Continuing the role as a librarian --- an upright
Elise (TheBookishActress)
"What Sarah Gailey's upcoming novella lacks in hippos, it makes up for with queer librarian spies on horseback" - Tor's blurb for this
Dec 03, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a popular ARC in my office at the library, for obvious reasons! I really wanted to love the book (queer! subversive! librarians!) but it just didn't click for me. I think it's mainly that I, a humble ace, could not understand how the protagonist could go from mourning her best friend/lover (who was JUST executed) to eyeballing the hot enby trainee librarian in the space of a single day. Perhaps this seems perfectly normal to allosexuals and wouldn't bother other readers at all, but to ...more
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook-owned, arc
3.5 stars- This is a high concept SF that mostly delivers on its premise and is, even more importantly, fun. Picture it: ye dystopia future in The West. We've got a plucky band of Librarians who are ostensibly a part of the State's institutional arm meant to reinforce a regressive social order, but we quickly learn (along with our point of view character) that this band is more than it seems. I loved the thematic content of this, and much prefer this version of those themes over its predecessor, ...more
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
Explicitly antifa, queer librarians... here goes again, publishing things that are directly my brand
The Nerd Daily
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Beth Mowbray Publishing has developed quite a name for themselves when it comes to incredibly well-written, weird, and original science fiction and fantasy reads. And Sarah Gailey’s upcoming novella, Upright Women Wanted, is no exception!

Playing off the classic western genre, Gailey kicks up dust, sweeping the reader away to a world they won’t soon want to leave. A future, near-dystopian, world where the State controls everything from
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This was cute and a few of the characters were great, but the story was really thin. I felt like the author just wanted to showcase these particular characters, not to tell a story really. The setting of the American West in a near future where gasoline was not readily available could have been rich, but we don’t really see enough of that society. Overall 2.5 ...more
That was so gay <3
laurel [suspected bibliophile]
Esther is a stowaway—a stowaway who got caught. After trying to convince the Librarians—those upright, morally virtuous distributors of Appropriate Materials—that she belongs and needs to join them, Esther begins to realize that the Librarians aren't as just as they pretend to be. They're part of the resistance, and out to deliver a package to safety from the authoritarian patriarchy ruling over the country.

I was intrigued and entranced by this Western-inspired dystopian, which took the
I think it was a few months ago that I first saw the cover for this book, which while it looked interesting with an equally intriguing title - it was the blurb talking about “queer librarian spies on horseback in future American Southwest” that sealed the deal that I had to read this one. I never expected to get the ARC but I did request on a whim, so imagine my surprise when I got approved for it. And I just had the urge to read it immediately and it was so much fun.

It’s kinda difficult to
Anyway, now I want to join a band of queer librarians travelling on a horseback and maybe find l*ve and f*mily. Hm.
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Queer librarians on horseback in a dystopian American future? Sure! Upright Women Wanted is Handmaids Tale meets the Wild West in a little novella that left me curious about the wider world. Esther is on the run after her best friend and lover was hanged for possessing Unapproved Materials. She hopes to cure herself of her attraction to women by joining the Librarians, but quickly discovers that things are not as she had thought. It's a short book, so I won't say too much more about the plot, ...more
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: Queer Librarians take on the Man in this rolicking, imaginitive Wild West tale.

Esther was, she realized, nothing more than a hand of cards in a poker game between these three women. She was only a symbol. She wasn’t the thing they were playing for. And like a bad hand, she could be discarded at any moment.

Sarah Gailey
Ash | Wild Heart Reads
Upright Women Wanted is a short, sharp and shiny novella filled with queer librarians on horseback, rebellion and the distribution of Unapproved Materials. It's a futuristic, dystopian wild west like you've never seen.

Esther journey was a fantastic one to follow - it was so great to watch her come into her own. We see her go on a journey - not just one of finding her strength but also one of accepting who she is and that there's more than out there for people like her than a tragic ending. It
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq
Me: I hate Westerns
Sarah Gailey:
Me: I hate MOST Westerns
May 24, 2018 marked it as to-read-so-bad-it-hurts
Hell yeah, 'queer librarian spies!'
Amy Imogene Reads
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2020
4 stars

This is exactly what's on the ticket: resistance Librarians in the futuristic State where a Wild West approach rules the land. When one girl escapes her good-for-nothing town to find a place where she can be free to love who she wants, she's taken on the desert adventure of a lifetime.


This is a short novel, so I'll make my review short and sweet.

Upright Women Wanted is great. It had a fantastic title, so I picked it up. I read the blurb "fight the State, be a
Holly (The Grimdragon)
"Did you ever meet anyone who used they instead of she or her? Or did you only ever read about that in stories?" Cye paused, but not long enough for Esther to reply. "That's what I thought. It's not safe to be they in town, no more than it's safe for Bet and Leda to be anything but Librarians who happen to ride together. When there's people around who we don't trust, we let them think we're the kinds of people who are allowed to exist. And the only kind of Librarian that's allowed to exist is ...more

Like the other Sarah Gailey books I’ve read, the premise of Upright Women Wanted might be a little hard to explain, but go in on trust and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

It took me a little while — probably longer than it should, I can be obtuse — to realise that the story is set in a near-future dystopian society rather than the historical ‘wild west’.

The sense of place is that well written. For most of the story we’re on the road, travelling in an unforgiving landscape with a few brief
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5 “I guess this was fine but I won’t remember a word of it in six months” Stars.

I loved Sarah Gailey’s American Hippo books, so I keep picking up her other work and expecting better than what I end up getting.

While this is a far better book than Magic for Liars in terms of narrative quality, it suffers from the same problem of being far, far better in concept than in execution.

Parts of this are cute and charming, but mostly the whole thing feels flat. Add in a protagonist who
Nostalgia Reader
3.5 stars, but it was just.... missing something to warrant rounding up to 4, sadly.

When I didn't see that my local library had this on order, I put in a request for it because, well, DUH. It should be everything I love: librarians, queer representation, badassery, an awkward-trying-to-find-herself MC, contraband rebels!!

But there was just something lacking in this presentation of it. Perhaps it's just because it's a novella, and it played out more like a side story in a longer novel. I wanted
i need more queer westerns. STAT!
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
"Are you a coward or are you a librarian?"

Upright Women Wanted continues Gailey's tradition of writing excellent stories threaded with incisive prose and extraordinary heart. This is a tale of identity, survival, and the importance of writing and telling stories about the lives and loves of queer people, especially during times like these when so many people live in hiding, afraid of living their truths. While I didn't feel like the novella format gave the main romance quite enough time to
Feb 04, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A queer western with a lot of weird stuff going on.

I'm not sure whether this book falls under the post-apocalyptic/dystopian genre or alternate history. It's a western and the main characters travel around in horse-drawn wagons. Cars do exist but no one has gas or other modern technology. The government rules with an iron fist and has a large army. There were hints that the country has been divided up differently, or at least that there are states where you can't travel to anymore, but it wasn't
Georgia (thefictionfolio)
"Everywhere." Esther whispered to herself, "There are people like us everywhere." Cye and Amity looked at each other and then back at Esther.
Yeah hop along.' Cye said carefully, "People like us."

[3.5 Stars]

This story absolutely fell into one of my favourite genre niches: quiet, character-driven, queer sff; following a found-family ensemble on a journey. And Upright Women Wanted had that and then some. (Yes this is a thing. Please hit me up if you need more recs.)
Antifascist librarians? In a
3.75 stars

I really enjoyed this. I mean, queer librarian spies on horseback? That is just the best premise. But for all the lovely writing and general goodness (OH HEY CYE), I wish this had been a touch longer. I wish certain things - important things like Esther's grief/trauma - were given space to breathe.

But wishing for longer length (ahem) aside, we do leave the Librarians in a good and hopeful place, and I'm crossing my fingers and toes that this isn't the last of their adventures we get.
Barb in Maryland
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Exciting adventure set in the southwest of a dystopian/alternate history US.
The blurb is short and says it all much better than I can, so go read it.

I really enjoyed this. How could I not, what with Librarians as heroes! The physical action is straight out of Louis L'Amour--horses, gunfights, deserts, suspicious sheriffs. I loved our Head Librarian, Bet, and her loving assistant Leda. Young Esther, our focal character, is such a mess, but she means well; it is a delight to see her learn, grow,
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“...a sharp edge on the words. It was a tone Esther recognized. The kind of dangerous that would have been hard to notice if she hadn't heard it a hundred times before. It was the danger of assumed authority. Amity thought of herself as more important than the librarians. Thought her work was more urgent. Esther had grown up in a house with that same kind of importance. She knew what happened when it was challenged. She knew what people who thought of themselves that way would do, just to protect the idea that they had the right to do it.” 0 likes
“She wanted that satisfaction. She wanted it for herself wanted it like a half-starved alley-rat watching that table through a window on a bellyaching night. She didn't know how to get it—but she had a feeling that if she stuck with the Librarians for long enough, she might be able to figure it out. How to feast instead of starving.

How to like the person who she was instead of fighting it.”
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