Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Endpapers: A Novel by Jennifer Savran Kelly

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)

about book: (summary from Goodreads)

An accessible, character-driven story set in 2003 New York City about a genderqueer book conservator who feels trapped by her gender presentation, her ill-fitting relationship, and her artistic block, as she discovers a decades-old hidden queer love letter and becomes obsessed with tracking down its author.
It’s 2003, and artist Dawn Levit is stuck. A bookbinder who works in conservation at the Met, she spends her free time scouting the city’s street art, hoping something might spark inspiration. Instead, everything looks like a dead end. And art isn’t the only thing that feels wrong: wherever she turns, her gender identity clashes with the rest of her life. Her relationship, once anchored by shared queerness, is falling apart as her boyfriend Lukas increasingly seems to be attracted to Dawn only when she’s at her most masculine. Meanwhile at work, Dawn has to present as female, even on the days when that isn’t true. Either way, her difference feels like a liability.  

Then, one day at work, Dawn finds something hidden behind the endpaper of an old book: the torn-off cover of a ‘50s lesbian pulp novel, Turn Her About. On the front is a campy illustration of a woman looking into a handheld mirror and seeing a man’s face. And on the back is a love letter.  

Dawn latches onto the coincidence, becoming obsessed with tracking down the note’s author. Her fixation only increases when her best friend Jae is injured in a hate crime, for which Dawn feels responsible. As Dawn searches for the letter’s author, she is also looking for herself. She tries to understand how to live in a world that doesn’t see her as she truly is, how to get unstuck in her gender, and how to rediscover her art, and she can’t shake the feeling that the note’s author might be able to help guide her to the answers. 

A sharply written, deeply evocative story about what it means to live authentically—even within an identity whose parameters have not yet been defined—Endpapers will appeal to readers of queer, nonbinary, or trans fiction like Torrey Peters’ Detransition, Baby as well as anyone who loves character-driven, setting-rich stories like Tell the Wolves I’m Home or The Immortalists.

my thoughts:

Wow! What a remarkable story. I am so happy that I read this book. Endpapers by Jennifer Savran Kelly is everything literature should be: excellent writing, fascinating characters, and an unforgettable story. Talk about a must-read!

So, why did I love this book so much? Well, for one, I loved that cover - it was intriguing and caught my attention right away. Second, the story grabbed me right from the start. I am a huge fan of character-driven stories, especially when the characters are so authentic and you can't help but want to get to know them. Plus, the story itself revolved around identity - gender, sexuality, and what it means to be authentic. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, and eye-opening. I loved it. Third, the writing was superb. I mean it. Endpapers oozed with powerful storytelling and intelligent writing - all of which I greatly appreciated. And, fourth, the book is just damn good. It really is. This is one book you do not want to miss out on. 

Dawn is a bookbinder who is struggling to find inspiration for her art. She's also trying to figure out how to be who she is meant to be, because everywhere she turns someone is telling her who she is. So, when she discovers an old piece of paper behind the endpapers of a book, she's intrigued. The paper is a book cover of an old lesbian pulp book and on the back of it is a love letter. Fascinated by the cover and the love letter, Dawn sets out to find who wrote the love letter. Along the way, she searches for herself, too. And, that is all I will share about this amazing story. You MUST read it for yourself to experience the beauty of it. 

I would happily recommend Endpapers to anyone and everyone - you will fall in deep with this one. Makes sure to check it out!

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

1 comment:

Ti said...

This one sounds pretty darn good. I love the cover too.