Over the Rainbow Short List 2022

By Nadia Orozco-Sahi  

The shortlist of titles considered for the Over the Rainbow final bibliography for books published in 2022 are the following:

All My Friends are Invisible. Jonathan Joly. Quercus Publishing, 2022. When Jonathan Joly has what might be described as a hallucination in a crowded airport, he is prompted to recall the world of imagination he escaped into as a child, a world in which he had a friend in the girl who lived inside of him, and his reasons for doing so. Joly does not interrogate his experiences, but rather relates them openly, and reveals that the world of his imagination, and his invisible friends, continue to be a part of his reality. 

All the Things We Don’t Talk About. Amy Feltman. Grand Central Publishing, 2022. Feltman weaves a multiperspective story that is at once heartbreaking and heartwarming. The diverse cast of characters feel incredibly real as they tackle serious issues such as drug addiction, neurodivergence, gender, and sex. 

Asylum: A Memoir & Manifesto. Edafe Okporo. Simon & Schuster, 2022. Forced to flee his home in Nigeria after he is revealed to be a gay man, Edafe Okporo escapes to the United States and seeks asylum from persecution due to his sexual identity. What he encounters in the United States is a cell, and a system that does not work for the humane treatment and integration of immigrants and refugees. Asylum is the story of Okporo’s survival, but also a call to action, and a vision of a more compassionate system. 

Bi: Bisexual, Pansexual, Fluid, and Nonbinary Youth. Ritch C. Savin-Williams. NYU Press, 2022. In its examination of a queer population often misunderstood, this book answers questions that many readers may have about bisexuality. With real-world examples and historical backing, Savin-Williams weaves one of, if not the most, comprehensive guide on bisexuality currently available.  

The Boy with a Bird in His Chest: A Novel. Emme Lund. Atria Books, 2022. Owen always knew he was different; after all, he was born with a bird in his chest. For so long his bird and his mother are Owen’s only companions. Then one day Owen’s mother leaves him with his uncle for his own protection and suddenly it seems like the whole wide world is open to him. Overwhelmed, afraid, and completely curious, Owen begins to explore. This allegorical tale of magical realism tells a story of Owen’s coming of age and coming out. Exploring themes of belonging, isolation, found family, sexuality, and identity, The Boy with a Bird in His Chest is both somber and delightful, unexpected and universal, without being cliché. 

Burn the Page: A True Story of Torching Doubts, Blazing Trails, and Ignite Change. Danica Roem. Viking Publishing, 2022. As the first openly transgender member elected to the U.S. State Legislature, Roem’s memoir is part reflective and part manifesto. Roem describes herself as a transgender storyteller, and this memoir reads like a novel, entwining the stories of Roem’s childhood, transition, and political life. Striking a good balance between humor and politics, Burn the Page has a message that is ultimately hopeful, showing that while we all make mistakes, it is possible for an individual to change the world for the better by sharing their authentic self.

Burning My Roti: Breaking Barriers as a Queer Indian Woman. Sharan Dhaliwal. Hardie Grant, 2022. Burning My Roti is a visually stunning blended-genre book which looks at the experience of queer South Asian women through essays, interviews and illustrations. Part memoir, this is both a broad look at the issues queer South Asian women face, as well as Dhaliwal’s own reckoning with her role in confronting those systems.  

Boys Come First. Aaron Foley. Belt Publishing, 2022. Dominick, Tony, and Remy have been friends for years. Growing up gay and Black in Detroit, when you find your crew, you stick with them; even when it gets hard and even when you have to tell them about themselves. There aren’t many books that embrace and celebrate Black male friendship, discuss intimate partner abuse in gay relationships, and tackle neighborhood gentrification all at once. This book does all that and more, and does it well.

Dead collections. Isaac Fellman. Penguin Books, 2022. Being a transmasculine archivist and a vampire can leave Sol Katz feeling like life is stagnant and unchanging, forever frozen in the early days of transitioning and living in the archives surrounded by remnants of times gone by. When the widow Elsie enters his life, Sol finds himself seeing life in a whole new way. As the two work together unraveling Elsie’s wife’s memorabilia, the two find themselves in a whirlwind romance, which may just be what they both need to heal their hearts. Delightfully humorous while being as real as a vampire novel can be, Dead Collections explores sexuality, gender, identity, and belonging in a way that is unexpectedly charming and heartfelt. 

Fine: A Comic about Gender. Rhea Ewing. Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2022. An honest look at how one’s gender definition can be different from person to person depending on everything from personality, religion, culture, to upbringing. With a diverse mix of authentic perspectives, this book shows that there is an unlimited number of ways to define oneself.

Flung Out of Space: Inspired by the Indecent Adventures of Patricia Highsmith. Grace Ellis and Hannah Templer. Harry N. Abrams, 2022. Following the life of author Patrcia Highsmith as she navigates a world filled with sexism, homophobia, and her own self-doubt, this graphic novel is for all readers regardless if they know her work or not. Not only does it paint the picture of a hard-working and strong woman who made her way in the world and stood up for what she believed in, but it inspires others to do the same.

The Gender Identity Guide for Parents: Compassionate Advice to Help Your Child Be Their Most Authentic Self. Tavi Hawn. Rockridge Press, 2022.  Written by a licensed therapist, Hawn answers many of the questions potential parents may have about gender. The writing is compassionate and kind as it guides readers through scenarios they may encounter, stressing how no one individual has all the answers but that a willingness to listen and learn can go a long way. 

Girl’s Guide to Leaving. Laura Villareal. University of Wisconsin, 2022. Many struggle everyday with how to leave. Leave a relationship, leave home, leave family. How does one separate themselves from something that is harming them, especially when it is rooted in love? Girl’s Guide to Leaving is a collection of poems that tell the story of finding identity in culture, and community in identifying and letting go. It calls out abusive systems without shying away from the reality of trauma and connection, of loving what you fear and holding what you want to let go of.  

I’m So (Not) Over You. Kosoko Jackson. Berkeley, 2022. Kian Andrews is single and ready to mingle. Except, he’s really not. He’s still stinging from his breakup with his ex Hudson Rivers, who, conveniently, needs his help. Hudson’s old money parents are in town, and he needs Kian to pretend to still be his boyfriend. The next thing they know, Kian is invited to a Rivers family wedding, and neither man is ready for what forced proximity will do to their not-real-anymore relationship. A big-hearted second chance romantic comedy that reminds readers that what you want and what you need are often different things, and that asking for them is not a bad thing.

Like a House on Fire. Lauren McBrayer. GP Putnam’s Sons, 2022. Merit has been a dutiful wife and mother for twelve years, and now she’s ready to jump into her career again. When her new boss Jane seems to see her as a whole person, in a way she hasn’t been seen in years, Merit begins to be open to the possibility of a deeper relationship than she’s known. This is a trope-heavy read with great character development, and a relationship experience that is not often explored.  

Love & Other Disasters. Anita Kelly. Forever, 2022. In this classic contemporary romance you follow two contestants on a cooking show competition. Dahlia just got out of a terrible marriage and put her hopes and dreams on this trip through reality TV. London is nonbinary and has to deal with the fallout of coming out on national TV while still trying to win the competition. Sparks fly between them, complicating matters even worse. Will they be able to figure out their relationship before the competition is over?  

Love in the Big City. Sang Young Park, translated by Anton Hur. Grove Press, 2021. A gay millennial experiences love and loneliness in Seoul. Told in four parts, the author explores topics of family, homophobia, sex, HIV status, and activism.

Ma and Me: A Memoir. Putsata Reang. MCD, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2022. This beautifully written memoir alternates between the author’s own story growing up in Oregon, coming out, and finding her way professionally as a journalist, and her mother’s story of escaping genocidal war in Cambodia. The author describes her deep desire to please her mother, while struggling with living between two cultures and coming to terms with her own sexuality. 

Miss Memory Lane: A Memoir. Colton Hayes. Atria Books, 2022. Detailing his start as a small-town kid wanting more, to his time as a well-known television actor, this book reads like a confessional. Hayes’s writing is honest and full of heart as he tells what is like being a gay actor in Hollywood.

Monarch. Candace Wuehle. Soft Skull, 2022. An examination of what it means to be human and how even the hidden parts of ourselves can bring immense changes. Wuehle weaves an immersive and intricate story, covering a range of emotions from love and loss to hatred and uncertainty.

The Other Mother. Rachel M. Harper. Counterpoint, 2022. A family drama told from multiple perspectives. A lesbian couple in the 90’s use a sperm donor to have a baby. After they split up the birth mother abandons the other mother and hides her existence from the child, Jenry. Jenry goes to college expecting to meet his estranged grandfather and learn about his dead father, but discovers more about his family than he could have ever expected. The novel eloquently poses the question: what makes someone family: blood or love?

Our Colors. Gengoroh Tagame. Pantheon, 2022. This tender graphic novel follows 16-year-old Sora Ikeda as he discovers the possibility of living as an out gay man. He sparks an unlikely friendship with an older coffee shop owner, who helps him understand that being out and proud comes with challenges, but it is much better than the alternative. Tagame’s precise lines still allow the story to sing, imbuing a dream-like quality to this gentle coming-of-age.

Our Wives Under the Sea. Julia Armfield. Flatiron Books, 2022.
Miri and Leah are in love and living a happily married life, until Leah leaves on a mysterious deep-sea journey and returns months later profoundly changed. Alternating between the perspectives of the two women, this hauntingly strange novel slowly reveals the bizarre story of what happened to Leah in the ocean depths, and what Miri must do to save the woman she loves. 

Queer Conception: The Complete Fertility Guide for Queer and Trans Parents-to-Be. Kristin L. Kali. Sasquatch Books, 2022. Comprehensive yet approachable title on fertility and conception for all of the LGBTQ+ community including trans* readers. Written by a queer midwife, topics range from making the decision to have a baby to dealing with issues of sperm donors, surrogacy, insemination, early pregnancy, and lactation.

A Quick and Easy Guide to Asexuality. Molly Muldoon and Will Hernandez. Limerence Press, 2022. This graphic novel covers a community that is often misunderstood and lost in today’s sexual world. With humor and plenty of examples, this book breaks down misconceptions to foster understanding.

Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington. James Kirchick. Henry Holt and Company, 2022. A riveting look at gay Washington DC and the fight for equality – from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Bill Clinton. Well documented.

Sedating Elaine. Dawn Winter. Knopf Publishing Group, 2022. Frances is in over her head, in more ways than one, and decides the best solution to her problems is to sedate her girlfriend while attempting to evade her drug dealer. Yes, this story is as ridiculous as it sounds, but it is also riotously funny, well-written, irreverent, and at times outright gruesome, with characters that jump off the page with almost no prompting.   

Sex is as Sex Does: Governing Transgender Identity. Paisley Currah. NYU Press, 2022. This comprehensive book is not weighed down by overly jargonized terminology or statistics as it discusses a serious issue for many transgender individuals: how the government regulates gender. Using real-world examples, Sex is as Sex Does details not only the history of gender regulations but also the “why” of it, all of which accumulates in a book that shows the process as the convoluted and often painful mess that it is.

Siren Queen. Nghi Vo. TorDotCom, 2022. Luli Wei knows what girls that look like her end up doing in the movies, and she’s determined to be none of those things – she’s going to be a star. But becoming a star in a world that survives on the currency of the expendable masses reaching for glory requires more than a pretty face and a little luck. It will take allies, cunning, ruthless ambition and an iron fortitude. It will take a monster. Nghi Vo has crafted a world that is recognizable and utterly unfamiliar. This is a book that dwells somewhere between satire and horror, and situated firmly within queerness. It brings to mind questions about secrecy, about the price we’re willing to pay to live authentically, what we’re willing to do to be free, and what paying those prices will do to us.

Sirens & Muses. Antonia Angress. Ballantine Books, 2022. Young art students Louisa, Karina, and Preston plunge headfirst into the New York art world amidst Occupy Wall Street, while veteran artist Robert rejoins it. Tensions abound over talent, taste, romances, and capitalism in the art world.

The Third Person. Emma Grove. Drawn and Quarterly, 2022. A raw memoir of the author’s mental health struggle through bad therapists and self-doubt. With authentic storytelling, this graphic novel addresses how harmful stigmatizing mental health can be as well as the potential damage gatekeeping can be during a transgender person’s transition process.

Walk Me to the Corner. Anneli Furmark. Drawn and Quarterly, 2022. A late-in-life queer love story beautifully conveyed with fairly simple text and pictures, and sometimes no text at all. Furmark allows us to walk with these two women in their fifties as they fall in love, develop a passionate relationship, and navigate that passion with their lives as spouses and parents. It is an emotional journey related with compassion and realism.

You Better Be Lightning. Andrea Gibson. Button Poetry, 2022. You Better be Lightning is a collection of poetry that touches on the deeply personal while seeming to remain vast in scope. To say it is evocative fails to capture the experience of reading Gibson, which is akin to beginning to shake the hand of a friend only to have them pull you close in an enveloping hug.  

Young Mungo. Douglas Stuart. Grove Press, 2022. The story of Mungo, a teenager in early 1990s Glasgow, Scotland. The book flashes between the time when Mungo discovers his feelings for a boy, James and starts to explore that relationship and five months later to a disastrous camping trip to a loch in Western Scotland that his mother sends him on with two neighbors. Mungo faces challenges due to not only his sexuality, but his class, a gang leader brother, an absentee and alcoholic mother, and an undiagnosed facial tic. The book elegantly captures the complicated feelings of a teen boy in a terrible situation. CW: sexual violence. 


Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *