cover image Summer Fun

Summer Fun

Jeanne Thornton. Soho, $27 (432p) ISBN 978-1-64129-238-2

A 20-something transgender woman’s obsession with a 1960s rock band drives Thornton’s spirited if overstuffed latest (after The Dream of Doctor Bantam). Get Happies superfan Gala writes a series of lengthy adoring letters to the band’s lead singer, B—, starting in 2009, from a trailer park in Truth or Consequences, N.Mex. Through the letters, Gala reveals details about her work at a youth hostel, her best trans friend, and a complicated, flirtatious relationship with a cisgender videographer. Her correspondence also reinvigorates the histrionics of B—’s past, as well as B—’s tumultuous evolution, the details of which are revealed midway through. The epistolary form lends itself well to the theme of extreme fandom and the soulful self-discovery of transgender identity as Gala yearns for belonging and contends with her depression. Gala and B—’s separate trajectories through joy, confusion, and episodes of darkness deepen both characters. The novel’s evocation of the hippie era and band culture is also remarkable, though Gala’s lengthy missives begin to lose steam soon after B—’s big reveal. Still, Thornton wrings a great deal of heart and soul from this earnest confessional. Agent: Jin Auh, the Wylie Agency. (July)