A drunken night in Vegas leads to a marriage? Fleeing for a summer to get to know her wife? Count me in! Honey Girl is a romance that is lyrical and emotional all at once. It’s a story about the pressures of being a woman of color and needing to figure out our own path. This was the absolute best book to end 2020 with! Keep reading this book review to find out what I loved!
With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.
This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her father’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.
In New York, she’s able to ignore all the annoying questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: self-harm, depression, anxiety
I was hooked on Honey Girl from the first chapter. If I’m being honest, probably before I even started. The premise spoke to something in my heart and I’ve been searching for more sapphic romances to read! Honey Girl surpassed all my expectations. I expected a swoony romance about falling in love with your wife. But what I got was an introspective journey of dealing with the pressures of being a woman of color, needing to rely on our friends, and self-discovery. What I expected was all the sighs at falling in love. But what I got was a flood of tears at how emotional the parental relationships were and how lyrical the whole book was.
Grace and Her Family
Grace felt relatable to me from the first moment I met her. From the way she’s super organized, but how she also just deeply wants to have a break. A break from the hustle, the ways she is undermined by her colleagues, the systematic racism. She is overwhelmed with what and who we should be. The fight for women of color is challenging and demanding perfection. It’s for all the opportunities that are never handed to you. That demand your perfection otherwise they discount not only you, but everyone after you. How after hustling for years to make her dad proud, she just needs a moment. But, at the same time, how terrifying it is to break orbit.
I could probably write a whole essay about why I loved Honey Girl. Grace’s relationship with her father and mother made my heart ache. They’re relationships with sharp edges, unsaid trauma, and mountains of love. There are expectations that weigh on our heart and strength that breaks you. Some of the passages that made me cry the hardest were the ones with Grace and her parents. Grace tries so hard to prove herself to people in her life. Her parents, her friends, her colleagues. But what happens when we focus on achieving the best and don’t ask us what makes us happy?
Don’t even get me started on how much I loved the side characters – like Yuki. From the first moment I met Yuki, I loved her. Not only is Yuki lyrical and romantic, she believes so whole heartedly in people and stories. Yuki believes in the importance of stories and beliefs, of taking things we see and making legends of them. Of believing myths without proof because faith is invisible and everything stems from somewhere. Paired with Yuki’s lyrical prose, the way Grace talks about space can break your heart. It’s vulnerable and raw, so clearly full of passion.
And I loved all of the side characters in the story – like Grace and Yuki’s friends. Even though they were briefly on the page, they made a stamp in my heart. Whether it was their details, or the ways they so clearly hold on to each other as found family. I particularly loved Grace’s friendships with Ximena and Agnes and her extended found family in the Tea Room (Meera and Raj)! Honey Girl is a shimmering example of the relationships that hold us together, that find us in the darkness and can guide us home.
Honey Girl is pure emotions. The rainbow spectrum of feelings, strong and coursing through the pages to our hearts. If you’re expecting a swoony romance, Honey Girl delivers. Yet its radiance outshines the swoons to celebrate a story of listening to ourselves, getting the help we need, and finding ourselves in the universe. Find Honey Girl on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.