By Gabby Rivera
You know my current state of boredom at work, which has left me with a lot of time to read. I started this one on my way to work today, and finished it over a few hours; it’s very easy to read. The language is so authentic in it’s young-ness that it felt like I was reading something actually written by a teen.
It was also thought provoking. Obviously, over the last few years, I’ve learnt so many new concepts and words for phenomenons that I didn’t know while I was just here in Singapore. A lot of that learning comes through exposure to cool, forward-thinking people like yourselves, who have graciously and patiently taught me new ways of thinking. However, I remember the feeling of not having these words when I was younger and talking to my brother (still happens, actually) and being so lost, then frustrated that I was lost, because I had what I thought were solid points but not the appropriate lexis to describe it. But now reading this, and trying to talk to my colleagues about the things that come up, I realise that the lexis that we use and know so well is actually incredible dense and elitist; I have to break it up for them, or there’s not going to be any room for communication. So I enjoyed seeing her process of learning and the moment where her adorbs cousin teaches her things.
On the other hand, at some moments it felt like a Queer Theory 101 course, because the language was so exact and they were throwing out these massive concepts in supposedly casual conversation; it felt like it was written to be used in high schools across America. And because so much of it was, “tell, not show”. Even those moments which are supposed to be the most emotional, like when she comes out and her interactions with her mother that follow – even those, they explicitly say some things that I don’t feel need to be said because they can be implied in gestures and actions. So that was a bit of a pity, that it was cool concepts and these incredible ensemble packed in there with their own complex relationships, but could have used a better editor.
I did very much like the insights through different characters of how tiring it can be to be poc, but also how everyone makes mistakes – and that people’s friendship, their willingness to try and learn, and their spirit/aura/whatever, these can be more important than any mistakes they make. I took away a very positive note from the book, particularly from the friendship between Harlow, Zaira, and Maxine. The visibility of queer and brown spaces and people was so lovely too. I did find elements of it too, uh, hippie? But I think within the book they’re also cognizant of that and how absurd it can be, and they make fun of it too, so it works out. Overall an enjoyable, easy read.
Also, the chapter about the periods was quite cool. I’m gonna try the trick with the salt and water to wash out stains lol.