Weaving together different forms of art with gender exploration, Endpapers sets out to ask us: Who are we?

OK so it’s not as existential as I make it seem, but it is still a major point of this book. Who are we? Why do we want the things we want? What even are the things we want? What will make us feel more like ourselves? These questions and more are what go through your mind when figuring out your identity whether sexual or gender. Gender identity is explored so well in this book that it’s breathtaking. It’s not a “perfect” journey, it’s one that is complicated and messy especially given that this takes place in the early 2000s. But everything about it feels so real and authentic. I love it for that.

Dawn works as a bookbinder in conservation (a cool job imo), but she feels stuck. She doesn’t feel inspired to make art, she doesn’t feel Happy in her relationship, she doesn’t feel like herself in her clothes, she barely knows how she feels. But one day while repairing a title, she finds the cover to a lesbian pulp classic with a note written in German on the back. Her obsession with it takes hold right away and she gets her friend, Jae to help translate it (no Google Translate in 2003). What she finds is that it is a love note from one young girl to another. It’s brave, it’s bold, it’s daring, and Dawn needs to know what happened to those girls.

This story is full of angst and sadness. You’re following queer characters in America when being queer was even more difficult than it is to be queer now, ESPECIALLY for gender nonconforming individuals. There are some tough scenes in this book. It’s also not a Happy book. There are sad, upsetting themes explored in this. Hiding yourself from people, hiding your true self from yourself, and hurting those we love when we forget to be vigilant. If you want this to be all sunshines and rainbows, I’m sorry, it’s not. However, I am really into that. I want brutal, raw, and real. I want the bleak mixed in with the hope, and this book is hopeful. I want a book to make me feel things, and this book does that.

I’m a big fan of Endpapers, and I’m really excited to see what Kelly makes next. I loved that she is a bookbinder and so therefor lent real authenticity to the character and their profession. That kind of stuff makes me very happy. So maybe her next book will also feature bookbinding? Who knows? But whatever it is, I’m ready to read it.

Published by keelinrita

A Chicago girl with a lot of feelings about fictional people.

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