cover image Bingo Love

Bingo Love

Tee Franklin, Jenn St-Onge, and Joy San. Image, $9.99 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-5343-0750-6

This gentle sweetheart story begins in 1963, when Hazel Johnson first sees Mari McCray at their church’s bingo hall in Paterson, N.J. The two black teens go to high school together and quickly become best friends. Hazel falls in love with Mari, but hides her feelings for years. But nearing graduation, when Mari gets into a fight with her grandmother, and Hazel comforts her, they kiss for the first time. Their brief happiness is ended, as their families separate them after discovering their romance. Thinking they will never see each other again, both marry young. Hazel goes on to raise three children with James Downing, an Air Force pilot, and becomes a grandmother before she sees Mari again. Their serendipitous reunion takes place in another bingo hall, in an uplifting second-chance turn to the tale (complicated, still, by family). Mari and Hazel’s period-appropriate outfits and hairstyles are lovingly rendered by St-Onge, and their tender moments are accompanied by flights of doves and showers of rose petals. With the buzz around this release (Franklin was awarded the Prism Queer Press Grant in 2017) and the hunger for inclusive, positive love stories, this should find a large, welcoming audience. (Feb.)