Erica Gillingham posted Between You & Me by Marisa Calin




Phyre, sixteen, that’s me! And this is my life. Or how I picture it. The door swings open and I smile up at you.


Come in. Close the door behind you.

Between You & Me by Marisa Calin is written as a film script. Short scenes, dialogue-heavy, and easily visualized, the format takes a brief adjustment but overall adds to the pace of this young adult novel. The narrator and protagonist Phyre dictates the film-like shots but her control ends there: she’s helpless in high-pressure situations. Without giving too much away, I’ll say briefly if you love theatre, ladylove triangles, and a slow burner, give this novel a read.

If you’re willing to have a few more details, Phyre is a sixteen-year old girl who aspires to be an actress one day. Her best friend is only known as “you”—we know some vague details about her, but never her name. The beginning of the school year brings student teacher, Mia, who will be teaching the fall semester’s theatre class. As soon as she walks on stage, Phyre is absolutely captivated. No one else exists but Mia but who is mesmerized by Phyre?

What I really like about this novel is the lovely, nuanced relationship between Phyre and her best friend. Yes, the title could indicate that this relationship will be central to the plot, but I was pleasantly surprised by the execution. In Between Me & You, Calin delivers a real, honest friendship between two girls that is tender and low-drama. I was alongside Phyre in her unrequited love for teacher Mia (who hasn’t been there, right?) and rooting for ‘you’ to finally say what she wants to say.

If you’re a reader of young adult novels with lesbian or bi characters, you’ll know that sometimes the big ‘gay’ issue can dictate the plot. Refreshingly, this is not the case here. When Phyre realizes her crush on Mia, there is no big fuss, stressful freak out, or coming out talk. In fact, there is no mention of labels or identity crises at all. Just attraction, infatuation, and one glorious kiss to seal the deal. Happy reading!

Between Me & You is the debut novel by Marisa Calin.

Erica reviews Love Song for Baby X by Cheryl Dumesnil


Love Song for Baby X by Cheryl Dumesnil is like the Eat, Pray, Love for any lesbian hoping to one day be a parent. Really, for any woman hoping to be a parent one day. Part love story, part spiritual journey, part comedy in human nature, Dumesnil turns her struggles to carry a pregnancy to full term into short, poignant vignettes of attempting to accept what is in the midst miscarriages, death, and waiting.

Spanning two years, Dumesnil sets the scene early with all that might be expected from two women trying to conceive. Falling in love, deciding to have a child, womb selection, donor selection, frozen sperm and home insemination. But none of this is told flippantly. Instead, Dumesnil brings her poet’s attention to each scene in Love Song for Baby X: knowing the names of trees and wildlife, remembering the fine details of what her “wife-to-be,” Tracie, was wearing the night they met, and noticing the exact emotions dictating her actions. Before I even got to their first conception attempt, I was convinced every queer woman I know should be reading this book—Dumesnil’s account of opening up to the possibilities of a relationship with Tracie is gold dust to anyone who has ever been afraid to love. In other words, everyone.

As three pregnancies in a row result in a diagnosis of chronic miscarriages, this timeline of events Dumesnil composes for the reader is packed with medical, emotional, and loving detail. Throughout Love Song for Baby X, I found myself sympathetically laughing along with her in her attempts to enforce some control over life’s path, crying with the honesty of her experience, and simply pausing to reflect on the vision she had created for me, as her reader. As Dumesnil and her wife find out they are pregnant for the fourth time—this time during San Francisco’s Winter of Love—I was rooting for this maybe baby, too.

The wonderful thing about reading Love Song for Baby X is that you know it has a happy ending. (Don’t worry, I’m not spoiling it for you; it’s in the dedication.) Despite all the pain and fear and breathing and acceptance, this story will come out all right in the end. And while you’re along for the ride, Dumesnil makes sure to keep the lighter moments balanced with the growth edges. Just scan the chapters titles—“The Pregnant Woman as Tippi Hedren in the Birds,” “The Pregoholic Admits She Has a Problem,” “Lesbians Don’t Have Surprise Pregnancies,” and “On Divinity, Shit, and Vomit”—and you know you’re in for a real treat.

Cheryl Dumesnil is on Twitter @lovesong4babyx and Love Song for Baby X is on Facebook (

Erica reviews Bobby Blanchard, Lesbian Gym Teacher by Monica Nolan

In Bobby Blanchard, Lesbian Gym Teacher, Monica Nolan playfully revives the genre of the 1950s lesbian pulp fiction novel. The protagonist is Bobby Blanchard, former field hockey star turned Games Mistress at a private all-girls school in rural Michigan. While her teaching skills are next to none, Bobby has no problem with instructing girls and young women alike in more salacious physical activities.

Indeed, upon her introduction to the rest of the faculty, it appears that at least every other faculty member (male or female) has similarly queer tendencies.  The question then becomes, who will be Bobby’s love interest? But before the reader can get too caught up in who might be doing whom and whose eyes are roaming over what bodies, there is a mystery to be solved. The Math Mistress suddenly and mysteriously died the summer before, and the more Bobby—and her rival, Enid, the new Math Mistress—uncovers, the more complicated the scene becomes.

Part murder mystery, part field hockey education, part bedpost notching, Bobby Blanchard, Lesbian Gym Teacher, is as ridiculous as it is entertaining. For any reader who is looking for all the juicy details of Bobby’s conquests, you best look elsewhere. What the novel does offer though is brief and enticing glances into the passionate trysts wherever—and I really do mean wherever—Bobby might find herself! Add in a bit of isolation, teenage lust, and love triangles, and you’ve got yourself a pulp fiction novel that keeps the action moving.

Perfect for a holiday read, a book for the beach, or curling up under the covers to pass the winter nights. With Bobby Blanchard, Lesbian Gym Teacher, Nolan offers a novel that fulfills all the gossip you ever hoped to hear about an all-girl’s school—and playfully reminds us that we really are everywhere.

Monica Nolan has also written Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary.

[Check out Erica’s other writing at her website.]

Erica reviews Skim (words by Mariko Tamaki and drawings by Jillian Tamaki)


When the graphic novel Skim opens, its lesbian teen protagonist, Kimberly Keiko Cameron (aka Skim), has just broken her arm on her mother’s candelabra that she was using for her Wicca altar. The broken arm isn’t really an issue except when Skim tries to photograph her cast with her left hand or writing her name. Plus, it gets her out of physical education.

After the suicide of a local teen boy from another school, the students and faculty at Skim’s school become hyper-aware of the students’ happiness (or, rather, their potential to commit suicide). Multiple classmates and adults approach Skim in particular because she is a quiet, goth-esque teenager—supposedly a stereotype for at-risk youth. Everyone seems to be worried about her well being, except for Skim that is.

Told in part diary format, part inner monologue, the Tamaki cousins link snippets of Skim’s days and weeks, highlighting conversations with her best friend Lisa, her attempts at witchcraft, the girls at school and her curious relationship with her English teacher, Ms. Archer. Skim’s storyline also parallels Katie Matthew’s, the ex-girlfriend of John Reddear, through Skim’s observations and interactions with her.

The illustrations are done in black and white and mainly focus on the characters’ emotions. Skim’s diary pages can be anything from a half a page to a double page spread, coupling sparse illustrations with minimal text. Both angles of the story telling reinforce Skim’s character: when she speaks, it matters, and she is still a teenager with big, teenager feelings.

What I appreciated most about this graphic novel was its gentle portrayal of Skim. While various characters try to figure out what is going on with her—why she is quiet, upset or aloof, etc.—Skim is just being Skim, reserved, relatively free of drama, and experiencing her own kind of heartbreak. She is true to herself, and in doing so she has the capacity to hear someone else’s heartbreak— and that results in an unlikely but pleasant connection. Overall, a tender portrait of first loves, school friendships, and the importance of compassion.

[Check out Erica’s other writing at her website.]