ARC Review: Girlish by Lara Lillibridge

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in advance of its publication date in exchange for an honest review. It debuts April 3rd and is available for pre-order.

I don’t read a lot of nonfiction. Reading is my escape and I like to stay on the fiction side of the aisle the majority of the time. However, every now and then something will catch my eye that has me putting down the make-believe in exchange for the real. Truth, after all, is sometimes stranger–and often funnier–than fiction.

I wasn’t sure about this particular book at first. On the surface, it didn’t look like I could relate to it. I didn’t grow up with lesbian parents. I’m younger than the author and our childhood references differ. I’m not from New York. We have seemingly nothing in common. However, a friend of mine suggested I read it because she couldn’t put it down.

So I decided to request it through NetGalley. I have an account there and have gotten a few ARCs (advanced reader copies) of books that are coming out soon so I can provide honest reviews to be available for potential readers by the date of publication. Seriously, after getting the copy of the book, I have no contact with the person sending it. There is zero pressure for me to love a book or to lie about loving it.

By the middle of the next day, I received my ebook copy of Girlish. The author is a name I have seen on Twitter and we were both interviewed for the Winterviews series on K.J. Harrowick’s site, though I have not ever actually met her. Still, I felt the slightest trepidation as I opened her life story. What if I hated it? How would I ever tell this poor woman that I couldn’t even finish her book?

For the record, that’s not a problem. She is so raw and real that I laughed, I cried, I cringed. The author tells the story in third person to give herself a bit of distance from it. I don’t blame her for a minute. I said before that from the outside looking in, I have nothing in common with this author, but as I read through her life story, I found myself nodding along with her feelings. Her struggles. Her heartbreak.

There were chapters that I could not stop reading, much to the detriment of my sleep schedule. There were chapters that I had to put down because I could not handle them and needed some distance myself (Be prepared for this, there are a few scenes that could be triggering). The book is an emotional rollercoaster. She doesn’t leave anything out. Even the ugly, hard stuff. She is so open about her experiences that you feel connected to her from the beginning.

It is a beautiful and also heart-wrenching account of a real person’s life. To me, it is proof that we are all more than the labels life hands us. Lara Lillibridge is labeled the daughter of lesbian parents, but that’s not all of who and what she is. Yes, it had some bearing on her experience, but it was not the sum and whole. Her parents are lesbians, yes, but there is more to each of them than that identifier.

And she is honest about the times in her life when she went through phases of being anti-lesbian because of what she went through. She admits the problematic thoughts she had at the time and that it took a few months, or sometimes years, to see things in a different light. She was, after all, a child trying to sort out who she was in life.

It is both painful and hilarious, but most of all it’s honest. She’s not perfect. Her parents weren’t perfect. Her childhood was messed up, but that seems to have less to do with her parents being lesbians than it does with the other factors in her life.

I would recommend this book to others with the caveat that there are some moments that can be triggering. I don’t want to set anyone off here, so if you need more information, head over the Contact Me page and send me a message. Otherwise, you can pre-order Girlish today or you can wait until April 3rd when it officially hits the market.

 

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