E-ARC provided by the publisher.
One month of 2021 down and I already have a book that will definitely be making it to my favorites of the year. Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers is everything that I needed and wanted. It healed me in so many ways with it’s ethereal, romantic writing and rich, complex characters. The story follows Grace Porter, who has just completed her PhD in astronomy and is grappling with life after graduation, a complicated relationship with her parents, and a drunken night that resulted in her marriage to a mysterious woman.
“What happened in Vegas is tucked away in her suitcase. It is under her shirt in the shape of a key. It is hidden in her hair with the last little bits of dried petals. It hides in the gold ring wrapped around her fingers like a brand.”
I really do not want to give much away with this book since I went into it only knowing basic details and I suggest other readers do the same. I will suggest adjusting your expectations if you are going into the book expecting a romance. Honey Girl has pretty much been marketed and categorized as romance, but it is so much more than that (which is not to knock romance at all by the way). This is much more of a contemporary coming-of-age novel about love, friendship, and family. We don’t really get into the romance of the story until a quarter of the way into the book, but it is completely worth the wait.
“All four of them squish together in the bed. They hold Grace together, hold her bursting seams closed.”
The love that Grace shares with her found family was one of my favorite aspects of this novel. Her friends are her family and they are all woven into the story in a way that makes each one distinct and complex. By the end of the book, I knew exactly who each character was. Morgan Rogers so tenderly writes each character, making me fall in love with every single one. I felt homesick for this book and it’s characters the moment I finished it.
Grace’s relationships with her parents is where she struggles the most. As a mixed-race child, Grace has to deal with a father who is a strict military man and a mother who is a free-spirit. I appreciated the way her issues with her parents were handled and the reasonable resolutions we arrive to by the end of the book.
“Us lonely creatures have to stick together.”
A central theme of this story is Grace’s struggle as a black lesbian woman in STEM. I can’t speak on the representation, but Rogers does a great job of depicting a woman who is sick and tired of her accomplishments being minimized based on the color of her skin, on top of the typical pressures and stresses of academia. These struggles have a very real effect on her mental health, which I appreciated reading about immensely. Honey Girl focuses a lot on mental health and loneliness in general in a way that was so healing. I have not read a book that has dealt with mental health in such a way in a long time and I absolutely loved it. I cried multiple times…and I rarely ever cry while reading.
Which brings me to the romance of it all. I don’t want to spoil anything about the romance since I enjoyed slowly uncovering the mystery of who Grace married as I read. What I’ll say for now is that I loved the the longing and yearning that is infused into Morgan Rogers’ writing. There was a specific kind of magical, ethereal quality to her words that I was enchanted by. It was so romantic. Although Grace’s relationship with her wife is not the main focus of the book, I felt like it was just enough to satisfy me as a reader initially expecting a romance.
Honey Girl wrapped me up in its warm, cozy embrace and healed me a little bit. I would highly recommend reading this beautiful piece of contemporary fiction when it releases on February 23rd! Please check out OwnVoices reviews like this one to get a different perspective on this book!
Some out of context things to expect from Honey Girl
- Mysterious, lonely, lurking beings.
- Monster hunting.
- Astronomy and space and possibly crying about the Mars Rover.
- Orange groves and farmers markets.
- So many cute, queer characters.
Will you be reading this book when it comes out? Do you have any favorite books featuring lesbian characters to recommend? Let me know in the comments!