Mahalia Harris wants.
She wants a big Sweet Sixteen like her best friend Naomi.
She wants the super cute new girl Siobhan to like her back.
She wants a break from worrying–about money, snide remarks from white classmates, pitying looks from church ladies . . . all of it.
Then inspiration strikes: It’s too late for a Sweet Sixteen, but what if she had a Coming Out Party? A singing, dancing, rainbow-cake-eating celebration of queerness on her own terms.
The idea lights a fire in her, and soon Mahalia is scrimping and saving, taking on extra hours at her afterschool job, trying on dresses, and awkwardly flirting with Siobhan, all in preparation for the Coming Out of her dreams. But it’s not long before she’s buried in a mountain of bills, unfinished schoolwork, and enough drama to make her English Lit teacher blush. With all the responsibility on her shoulders, will Mahalia’s party be over before it’s even begun?
A novel about finding yourself, falling in love, and celebrating what makes you you.
Thoughts and Themes: I will give any LGBTQ+ a try so when I saw this one I was happy to read it. I also have been trying to diversify the LGBTQ+ books that I read which means including more Sapphic books in that mix.
There is so much that happens in this book and I just really enjoy the way the author touches on each of these things. This book talks about socio economic class, queerness, religion, friendship, family, the concept of coming out, and so much more. I really liked the way each of these topics come about but also how much this book shows that it takes a village.
This book is one that I hugged, threw across the room, only to go grad it and hug it some more, this book made me laugh and then cry. This is one that just stuck with me for so many reasons and there was so much relatable material in this book that I just had to sit with it sometimes. This is one that I just wanted to immediately re-read once I finished it because of how much I related to what was going on in this book.
Characters: In this book you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with our main character, Mahalia. You get to meet her mother, her best friend, Naomi, the love interest, Siobhan, her dad, his new family, and several more characters. I really enjoyed each of the characters that are introduced throughout this book and the relationships that they have with Mahalia and with each other.
I loved the relationship between Mahalia and Siobhan, even if you suspect this is coming there are definitely moments in which you think Mahalia is in love with a straight girl. I loved that this wasn’t the case and how this all unravels and how their relationship comes to be.
I also loved the complexity behind the relationship of Mahalia and her mother. I love that the mom wants to support her and doesn’t always know how to. I love that they don’t always know how to communicate with each other and that this is called out. I also liked how their relationship contrasts with the relationship that Mahalia has with her father. I thought it was great to see that contrast and then also see how Mahalia’s father’s new wife can show up for Mahalia even when he can’t.
Writing Style: This book is written in first person through the perspective of Mahalia. I loved that everything was being told through Mahalia’s perspective because you got to know her feelings instantly. I think that being in her feelings really makes the book hit a lot harder and allows you to feel her pain. I also liked that everything was told in her perspective because there were so many moments that were beautiful because you didn’t see them coming.
Camryn Garrett was born and raised in New York. In 2019, she was named one of Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21 and a Glamour College Woman of the Year. Her first novel, Full Disclosure, received rave reviews from outlets such as Entertainment Weekly, the Today Show, and The Guardian, which called a “warm, funny and thoughtfully sex-positive, an impressive debut from a writer still in her teens.” Her second novel, Off the Record, will be released May 18, 2021. Camryn is also interested in film and is a student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. You can find her on Twitter @dancingofpens, tweeting from a laptop named Stevie.