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Upright Women Wanted

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  103 ratings  ·  76 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—

Kindle Edition, 176 pages
Expected publication: February 4th 2020 by
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  103 ratings  ·  76 reviews

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Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
"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
Emily (emilykatereads)
“be gay, do crimes, circulate books”

is tor pandering to me
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
Explicitly antifa, queer librarians... here goes again, publishing things that are directly my brand
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
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
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 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 24, 2018 marked it as to-read-so-bad-it-hurts  ·  review of another edition
Hell yeah, 'queer librarian spies!'
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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
Oppressive goverment men beware, these ladies have your number.

Gailey knocks it out of the park again, this time with Upright Women Wanted. Queer, gun wielding, horseback riding librarians, in a dystopian future, risking life and limb to deliver 'packages' on behalf of an underground resistance?? Oh hell yaaaaaas!

Sep 18, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
this is ALL ive EVER ever EVER WANTED
Ashleigh | 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
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: home-library
I. Loved. This. Book. I devouredit in one day and already can't wait to read it again.
I loved the characters, the setting, the Librarians, the drama, all of it. I could read 500 more pages of this story, but I also kind of love that it is short and just a glimpse of a bigger story.
I loved Esther immediately. She is broken and scared and quite naive. But she knows she has to do something, make some change for herself. Even if at first it might be for misguided reasons, it kind of shows that
J.A. Ironside
ARC provided by via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Upright Women Wanted was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020 and it did not disappoint. Gailey's prose is open and engaging, the characters possess a warmth and depth that makes you immediately root for them, even when they are flawed or acting in a less than likeable way. The novella is set in a weird west which we later learn is a post-collapse totalitarian patriarchy. The boys go off to war. The girls go to be good
Rachel Pollock
I bailed on this at the 25% point because it just didn't ring true to me. It should have been right up my alley and the concept is great. The execution though reads like some lesbian Deadwood fanfiction with the names all find-and-replaced.
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The old trope of running away with the circus never really made sense to me. Sure there’s glamor and adventure, but it always sounded like a lot of messy, smelly work to me. Running away to join librarians, however, is just my cup of tea. Even without the added “motivation” that prompts protagonist Esther runs away to join a group of traveling librarians in a devastated future America in Upright Women Wanted, I would totally understand why she would rather tramp around the desert with librarians ...more
Jan 06, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
From the woman who gave us Cowboys* on Hippos, "Queer librarian spies".

How can I not want to read this?

[* cowpeople?]
This is a novella that focuses a lot more on character than on world-building, which was left kind of vague. I liked Esther's journey to finding inner strength, learning to question what she's been told/indoctrinated to believe, and discovering that she's not alone in the world or 'bad' for wanting something else other than what's been expected of her.

I do think the romance should have been left out of this one-- especially with Beatriz's death right at the beginning, it felt way too fast.

Sarah Hollowell
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rachel Abbott
Queer outlaw librarians??? QUEER OUTLAW LIBRARIANS??? I've never wanted a book so badly in my LIFE
I received an advance copy for review purposes from the publisher via Netgalley. This in no way influences my review; all words, thoughts, and opinions are my own.

Content notes:
(view spoiler)
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
This book felt very uneven to me. Parts of the world-building were really incredible and handled very deftly, while other elements of it were so ham-fisted as to feel like an after school special. Likewise, some of the characters (well, two) were really well-drawn, while the others were so flat that they were indistinguishable from each other. There is a couple here that I could literally not describe apart from their names, and this despite both characters taking up a vast amount of page time. ...more
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been a public librarian in Topeka, Kansas since 2001 and I am passionate about serving my community but @gaileyfrey’s Upright Women Wanted is the alternate history adventurous love letter to my life choices I didn’t realize I needed. Thank you.

I read an advance copy of this book and LOVED it. I’m not saying that every line is quoteable. Some excellent words are devoted to world building and plot and such. But...some lines are truly great and I can’t share them yet because spoilers.

Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
was lent an ARC of this; it was great. there are levels of resistance and not all humans are capable of the roughest, but can still do something.
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really exceptional book from an exceptional author. If you're here for 'queer librarian spies fighting fascists' then you will not be disappointed. Esther is a queer woman looking to escape her fate by joining the librarians, traveling women who ostensibly deliver 'approved media' to smaller communities in a post civil decline west. Her journey as she learns who the librarians really are and learns who she is (and allowed to be) herself, feels so earnest and earned. I sometimes have a problem ...more
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After her best friend and lover hangs for the crime of Possession of Unapproved Materials, Esther stows away on the Library Wagon passing through town. But when she wakes up to the barrel of the Head Librarian's revolver, she realizes her escape from danger has only led to violence and intrigue (and possibly, a romance). Gailey's return to uncharted American territory is less joyful than River of Teeth, but delivers an action-packed story of identity and resistance.

***Review based on an ARC
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Novellas by their nature leave you wanting more. With Gailey's River of Teeth, I was left wanting more space - there was so much crammed into the pages that the story and people felt disjointed and sketched out. But with Upright Women Wanted, I was left wanting more of the characters - I want more stories and more time in this universe.

This isn't a perfect story - there are (view spoiler)
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a quick read with a great message and story. Unfortunately, neither of these things were fully developed because of how brief the book is.
The setting of the story, characters and the storyline had great potential to be fully explored and I really wish they had been.
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