cover image Not That I’d Kiss a Girl: A Kiwi Girl’s Tale of Coming Out and Coming of Age

Not That I’d Kiss a Girl: A Kiwi Girl’s Tale of Coming Out and Coming of Age

Lil O’Brien. A&U New Zealand, $18.95 trade paper (344p) ISBN 978-1-988547-58-9

O’Brien recalls her rocky voyage toward embracing her “overwhelming desire for the same sex” in her humorous if uneven debut. Raised in a well-off conservative white family on New Zealand’s South Island, O’Brien was unprepared for the day her loving and supportive parents discovered she was gay and immediately kicked her to the curb. (“Don’t pack. Just go,” her mother said, before forcing her out of their home “like a stranger who had infiltrated their house.”) Still reeling from her family’s venomous reaction 16 years earlier, O’Brien recounts the soul-searching and anxiety that followed as she sought to come into her own as a lesbian, with stops along the way for frequent ill-advised boozy hookups, a foray into the misogynistic world of advertising, and an inconclusive attempt to reconcile with her still-uncomprehending parents. While O’Brien’s foreshadowing can feel gratuitous and her often-murky recollections (“it’s hard, looking back, to remember the truth”) can undermine her story’s emotional impact, her dry wit will endear readers—especially those who, like her, will recall the struggle to find queer reading materials at the local library without being caught. O’Brien’s dedication to capturing the messy nuances of coming out packs plenty of rewards. (Sept.)