Monday, December 27, 2021

Book Review: "Last Night at the Telegraph Club" by Malinda Lo

Last Night at the Telegraph Club is a well-told story about a young woman’s awakening amidst turmoil around her.

In 1954, 17-year-old Lily Hu dreams of a job in science like her aunt, who works on a computer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. But that’s not what good girls do—her mother expects that she’ll meet a nice man and raise children.

Lily wants more than going to dances and flirting with boys like her best friend Shirley. She can’t figure out what’s missing—until she sees a romance novel about two women, and everything seems to click into place, including her fascination with male impersonators.

She draws closer with her classmate, Kathleen, who takes her to the Telegraph Club, a lesbian club in downtown San Francisco. But to live her truth means risking it all—the disapproval of family and friends, and potential criminal action, as homosexuality isn’t legal in 1954.

This is an emotional, well-written and well-researched story, which touches on post-World War II treatment of Asians and the growing fear of Communism. The flush of first love and realizing who you are was captured so accurately.

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