And then she put her down and kissed her

You really want to make a writer happy — surprise her with an adorable picture of her lady couple in the middle of the night out of nowhere. Thanks, Yeaka!
Yeaka Shulamit and Aviva

Shulamit and Aviva are characters from these novels.

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Characters like us

This just in: “I want a queer and/or trans character whose storyline doesn’t revolve around their marginalization” does not mean “I never want fictional characters to ever face microaggressions or challenges ever again!”

Watching a character like me deal with background stuff while having completely unrelated adventures that could have starred straight people but for once, we get to play is helpful and cathartic. Having characters like me not get to participate in adventure stories and fairytales unless the marginalization narrative is front and center feels claustrophobic.

The weird thing is the way people think the addition of same-sex couples or trans characters means the story would have to change. Like movies about hostage crises. There’s always shots of the negotiator’s freaked-out spouse or girlfriend or whatever, outside, back home, whichever. Why can’t that person be a same-sex partner or trans or something? There’s literally no reason except people would freak out. SOME people would freak out. You know what I mean?

Because a buddy cop movie is a completely different movie if the buddy cops hook up, but not if one of the buddy cops has a husband back home.

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“Kiss me so I’ll be able to feel it when we’re apart.”

The wizard Isaac is leaving on a royal spy mission, leaving behind his warrior captain wife Rivka for a few days. It’s my birthday today, so I’m posting pure self-indulgence.
Erika-Isaac and RivkaCharacters from The Second Mango and Climbing the Date Palm, drawn by Erika Hammerschmidt. Scene is from Date Palm but technically that’s a spoiler.

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Fairy tales where the cute, plucky cook winds up with the queen

In The Second Mango and Climbing the Date Palm, plus the upcoming sequels, the ladies who love ladies get the happiest endings!

Shula Aviva kissl

Queen Shulamit and Chef Aviva were drawn here by Kayaczek.

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Lady lovin’ in the sukkah

Aviva and Shulamit, the lady couple from The Second Mango and Climbing the Date Palm, share a cuddly moment during Sukkot.

Lulav Etrog OTP

Drawn by Becca Schauer based on characters created by Shira Glassman.

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Dragon protecting the etrog

The very BEST way to keep your etrog safe is to have it guarded by a dragon, of course! Rivka knows best. (Dragon pic by yeaka.)

Dragon guarding etrog

Characters from The Second Mango and Climbing the Date Palm, queer Jewish feminist fantasy lit with eBooks in the five dollar range. (Paperbacks available for more.)

Non-Jews: Sukkot is a little like Thanksgiving but with giant alien mutant dinosaur lemons instead of pumpkins.

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“The Summer We Got Free”: powerful family drama with queer themes

Holy shit.

Okay, so maybe reading this book in one sitting, alone in my apartment, wasn’t such a smart idea. I’m a wimp and there was some pretty fucking powerful, heavy, HEAVY, I mean heavy like those magnets that make something tiny stick to the table and you can’t lift them no matter what you do, stuff in this novel.

You know how some of us are always looking for queer lit that doesn’t remind us of what it felt like to feel that false shame? This is not that book.

But what this book is, is a cinematic, well-constructed, multi-layered story that gives up the secrets of its tightly-wound reveal like a somber burlesque dancer slowly discarding veil after veil. By the end of the story there are no veils anymore (as the title suggests), and I promise that, while we see the worst of someone’s shame, we also see the beautifully-phrased realization of how wrong it was to be ashamed.

This is a book about black women and to a lesser extent black men; all the characters—members of a family who never dealt with the murder of one of the children seventeen years ago—are complete creations who each could have filled up an entire book of their own. And yet, it’s in their combination that the story thrives.

image
This book comes with a passel of trigger warnings; they’re in my tags on this post because some of them are spoilers.

Another thing you do get, by the way, is main character lesbians who don’t die. Some of us won’t read a book without that reassurance, so, sorry if that’s a spoiler.

Choice bit of excellent phrasing:  Yellow roses, fat and lush as bowls of paint. Their fallen petals like paintdrops on the tabletop. And one of the first scenes with real, charged chemistry between the two leading ladies reminded me of the “my candle has gone out” scene in La Boheme.

Most of all, read it for the fiercely independent protagonist as a child, in the book’s many flashbacks (it’s told in dual narratives, between the 50’s and the 70’s.) She was like Lisa Simpson, but angrier: talented, smart, and unafraid to speak truth in the face of myths and conformity.

The Summer We Got Free is written by Mia McKenzie of Black Girl Dangerous and won a Lammie last year.

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