Thursday, December 28, 2017

Review: Would You Rather? by Katie Heaney

Title: Would You Rather?: Growing Up, Coming Out, and (Occasionally) Getting It Right
Author: Katie Heaney
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: March 6th 2018
Source: Ballantine Books

Book Description:

A collection of poignant, relatable essays from the author of Never Have I Ever about coming out in her late twenties, entering into her first relationship, and figuring out what it means to be an adult.

When Katie Heaney published her first book of essays chronicling her singledom up to age 25, she was still waiting to meet the right guy. Three years later, a lot changed. For one thing, she met the right girl.

Here, for the first time, Katie opens up about realizing that she is gay. She tackles everything from the trials of dating in New York City to the growing pains of her first relationship, from obsessing over Harry Styles (because, actually, he does look a bit like a lesbian) to learning to accept herself all over again. Exploring love and sexuality with her neurotic wit and endearing intimacy, Katie shares the message that it's never too late to find love--or yourself.



I've got to admit.... I'm a little disappointed in this book.

I adored Katie Heaney's first book, Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date which chronicles her misadventures as to why she's in her 20s and perpetually single. It was clever, funny, and so relatable. It was one of my favorite books of 2014.

Well, since then, she's answered the question of: "Why can't I find a guy to date?" The answer? She's LGBT.

I think there's a huge space for this sort of book. I haven't come across many later-in-life out of the closet books. I think it's a needed space to fill that tells people it's okay if you don't have yourself figured out in your teens when it seems like everyone else is so confident.

I was excited to get this book because of the aforementioned adoration, but also because I am queer. I figured, if she was relatable as a heterosexual woman, surely she'll be even more so now that we're both on the same side of the rainbow. And the answer to that assumption is, kind of.

She is relatable on the "but I like dudes how can I like girls" front. I had the same struggle growing up. I didn't understand that it wasn't "normal". I was attracted to actresses or models on TV the same way I was men like NSYNC or Leo DiCaprio. So I felt for her on the whole "WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING WITH ME" thing. I didn't relate so much to the fear of not being queer enough that she went through (trying to find the "perfect lesbian outfit" or feeling like people at a gay bar would know she's not one of them, for examples). But, I understand where that thought process would come from, being pan myself.

In spots it gets sort of political and preachy, which was a bit grating. But, it comes with the territory I think.

One thing that sort of put me off of this book is her tone about reviews. She expresses a torn view point, on which she likes hearing from people who related to her first book, but also feeling pressured by them and annoyed. There's a negative tone about reading reviews, and on one hand: I get it. It has to be hard for any writer to read reviews. This has to be multiplied when your book is nonfiction; I'd imagine there's quite a sense of "these people are judging me and my life". But at the same time, it kind of sounds like a slap in the face to those people who enjoyed it and supported book. Full disclosure: I was one of those people who messaged her.

By her own words, she says she's getting less likable and I have to admit I don't disagree. The quirky and awkward charming sense of humor is gone. Part of that is surely the change of topic. Coming out of the closet and realizing one's self is certainly more serious and life altering. But I went in with that expectation, and by comparison her tone in this book just comes off as harsh.

That said, there's a glimpse of the other book within this one. Every few chapters/essays or so, there's a highlight of a girl that Heaney might have had a crush on. I thought this was really cute, and I totally get it. I look back to my growing up sometimes and can't help but to think "oh... I think I liked that girl". These were sweet and broke up the rest of the text well.

I think it's good for those who are pan or broadly queer or who are older and still trying to find themselves. If you haven't read the other book, you'll probably have a lot less issues with it than I did. I enjoyed reading this story of growth and self-acceptance, but I don't think it's something I'll need to read again in the future.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.


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