Another great crossover YA book by Malinda Lo

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Malinda Lo has brought us another great crossover YA novel set in California. Fifty or so years after Last Night at the Telegraph Club, East coast teenager Aria finds her plans to spend her last summer before college in Martha’s Vineyard interrupted by an unfortunate incident with a boy. Instead, she’ll be spending it with her artist grandmother, Joan, outside of San Francisco, California. Shortly after her arrival, she means Joan’s gardener Steph and is immediately attracted to her. She’s always thought she was straight and suddenly she’s falling for a woman and attending various queer events with a new group of friends. Unfortunately, Steph is not single. Throughout this unforgettable summer, she is also learning about art and family from her grandmother.

We get a glimpse into the lives of the characters from Last Night at the Telegraph Club, which fans of that book will enjoy but it won’t hinder any understanding or enjoyment of the book for those who haven’t read it.

I don’t often read YA as a thirty-five-year-old, but Lo is so fantastic that her writing feels accessible and meaningful beyond the intended age group. While I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as Last Night at the Telegraph Club, I’ll continue to pick up Lo’s work. This story was a bit slow moving, with a lot happening in the last quarter of the book. The characters are thoughtfully written and their actions and feelings are realistic and understandable, there’s no over the top drama or angst that sometimes accompanies YA stories.

Lo is so talented at painting pictures with words, it’s no wonder she is able to write so distinctly about art. We also get some beautiful explanations of science, particularly astronomy, that really bind the story together. Her descriptions of what it feels like to fall in love are some of the best I’ve read.

I enjoyed this book and I think it will be a hit across age groups, just like Last Night at the Telegraph Club. If you want a great LQBTQ+ story, but don’t want an outright romance novel, this book will absolutely fit the bill.