Greetings! For today’s post I have decided to share my recent buddy reading experience on Bookstagram (Instagram for bookish people). In May, I participated in my very first buddy read with another fellow book lover. It was initiated by a giveaway I hosted in April for the debut novel Stray City by Chelsey Johnson.
All of us were refugees of the nuclear family . . .
Twenty-four-year-old artist Andrea Morales escaped her Midwestern Catholic childhood—and the closet—to create a home and life for herself within the thriving but insular lesbian underground of Portland, Oregon. But one drunken night, reeling from a bad breakup and a friend’s betrayal, she recklessly crosses enemy lines and hooks up with a man. To her utter shock, Andrea soon discovers she’s pregnant—and despite the concerns of her astonished circle of gay friends, she decides to have the baby.
A decade later, when her precocious daughter Lucia starts asking questions about the father she’s never known, Andrea is forced to reconcile the past she hoped to leave behind with the life she’s worked so hard to build.
I was very excited to read this one. It was one that I had been following and receiving a finished copy was a complete surprise. I was even more surprised when I realized I was sent two finished copies. When I mailed the finished copy to library_swagger I asked if she would be interested in doing a buddy read of Stray City. Thankfully she agreed and was just as excited as I was.
I have always wanted to be part of a solid book club. I have always cherished the times in which I could enthusiastically talk books with other book lovers. There is just something so satisfying for me when I get to talk books. It does my soul good to be able to do so. For me the enjoyment gained from Bookstagram is food for the soul. It is the perfect outlet for me to be able to associate with people who have no shame in geeking out over books. I have made great connections with so many people that I would have otherwise never known existed. For example, library_swagger resides in North Carolina. I have connected with several bookish people all over the country and abroad. I plan to share more of treasured Bookstagram experiences in future posts. Now back to Stray City and my first buddy read.
Once library_swagger agreed to the Stray City buddy read we decided to share our thoughts on the novel by the end of May. We shared our progress with each other while at the same sharing our enthusiasm. I cannot tell you how much fun I had reading the novel, wondering where library_swagger was in the story, curious to find out if she was going to feel the same way I did and nervous that she was going to hate it. I knew that if library_swagger hated the book I was going to fell terrible. After all I was the person who put the book in her hands! At the end of the day it was all in good fun. It is the risk a reader takes whenever they choose a book to read. There is a definite possibility that we are not going to enjoy that book. Those are usually the best bookish discussions between readers.
You must be wondering if we finished Stray City. We did! We both came to the same conclusion. We are not a fan of the ending. We both loved the setting which was Portland Oregon in the late nineties. I thought it was the perfect time period in which to base the story. It was truly a transitional time in our history especially within the gay community; not to mention the tail end of alternative rock is an idyllic pairing.
What did we not like? The first half of the book was really great. There was a build up to the unusual relationship between Andrea and Ryan. The description of the nineties scene. We learn Andrea’s background and the power of the family we choose for ourselves. I was so engaged and committed to seeing where Andrea’s story was going to go. Even though it is mentioned in the synopsis, I was not at all ready for the jump ten years into the future. I felt like I was forcibly plunged into a completely different book. Library_swagger felt the same way. This was so helpful for me. Whenever I do not like a book there is always a small part of me that wonders…is it just me? Am I missing something? The huge benefit of doing a buddy read…apart from bonding with other book lovers…is being able to get another perspective. It would have been fascinating to me if library_swagger would have come away with different thoughts on the novel. However I am thrilled and take tremendous comfort in the fact that we are agreement!
Library_swagger and I have already agreed to another buddy read in the future. I am already looking forward to what our book selection will be. I am so excited that we are both eager to build on to our bookstagram friendship. It has been such a fun experience!