Taleen Voskuni’s promising sapphic debut packs more than your average meet-cute romance. Sorry, Bro follows an Armenian American woman’s quest to balance familial duty, identity, career aspirations, and, of course, love.
Nareh, a TV journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area, presents a polished persona on Instagram, but lacks self-assurance behind the scenes. She has not fully embraced her bisexuality, which she keeps a secret from her family, nor does she feel like a “real” Armenian with roots to her culture. Nareh’s identity crisis extends to her professional life. Constantly accepting the fluff assignments that her sexist, bigoted boss dumps on her, she holds her own journalistic talent in low esteem.
But when Trevor, her non-Armenian boyfriend of four years, pops the question in a crowded bar amid his tech bro buddies, Nareh has a moment of clarity. She no longer fits the mold that she’s created for herself. With Trevor leaving for a three-week business trip, Nareh asks for some space to reconsider their future.
Her mother has other plans for her. Armed with a spreadsheet of eligible Armenian bachelors, she urges Nareh to attend Explore Armenia, a weeks-long cultural convention that doubles as a singles meetup for Armenian American millennials across the Bay Area. A dutiful daughter, Nareh pep talks herself into showing up at the festivities, but no men strike her fancy, just one woman.
Nareh can’t look away from Erebuni, a chic, self-possessed woman who also happens to be an Explore Armenia board member with a day job at the Armenian Genocide Education Foundation. Erebuni not only pulls Nareh into her thrall, but also challenges her to investigate her Armenian heritage. Raised in a household where her late father aspired to white American ideals while her mother clung to Armenian culture, Nareh has until now failed to understand the impact of Armenia’s history on her family and the Armenian American community. As Nareh grows closer to Erebuni, she is forced to confront both her ambivalence about her ancestry as well as her bisexuality, which she fears will alienate her from the Armenian family she is just starting to better understand.
Voskuni does a beautiful job developing Nareh’s and Erebuni’s slow-simmering romance, which feels simultaneously familiar and refreshing. I rooted not only for their love, but for Nareh’s growth through the book as she carves a path that both empowers her and brings her closer to her family and greater community. I fell in love with Erebuni’s motley crew of Armenian American friends, who welcome Nareh into their fold and give her a newfound sense of belonging. Readers looking for steamy sex scenes won’t find them here—sex is broadly alluded to but remains Nareh’s and Erebuni’s little secret. But fans of this book will be happy to find that it is the first in a series: Lavash at First Sight hits shelves in 2024.
Content warnings: war, genocide, racism, sexism, homophobia/biphobia, death of a parent