A Painfully Oblivious Lesbian Love Story: Cash Delgado Is Living the Dream by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Cash Delgado Is Living the Dream audiobook cover

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Your enjoyment of Cash Delgado Is Living the Dream will depend heavily on how you feel about reading hundreds of pages of a truly oblivious queer main character. The kind of character who googles, “Can you be straight and have a sex dream about your female best friend?” “Can you be straight and have sex dreams about a woman every night?” “Can you be straight and want to kiss a woman?” Personally, I had a lot of sympathy for Cash’s heteronormativity-poisoned brain, so I had a great time listening to the audiobook narrated by E. A. Castillo.

This is set in the same small town as Mejia’s 2023 bisexual F/M romance Sammy Espinoza’s Last Review and has some cameos of characters from that book, but I didn’t read the first book and didn’t feel like I was missing anything major, so you can definitely start with this one.

At 17, Cash Delgado shaved her head and joined a punk band, and then her controlling parents kicked her out. She thought she had a found family in the punk scene, but when she got pregnant, her support system (and the father) disappeared. She was on her own.

Since then, she’s built a life for herself by running Joyce’s Bar, a rundown bar that nevertheless is a community hub, especially on Karaoke Night. It isn’t glamorous, but the job comes with major perks, like free housing and health benefits. The hours are also flexible so that she can drop off and pick up her daughter Parker. (Parker also plays a fairly significant role in the book, and she’s an adorable six year old with a big personality.) Another big advantage of Joyce’s is working with her best friend, Inez.

Inez is the closest thing Cash has to family now, other than her daughter. She helps out with laundry and dishes when Cash falls behind. Parker adores her. Cash is so grateful for Inez’s support. Sometimes she worries that Inez is going to get a serious girlfriend one day and they won’t be as close, but she tries not to dwell on that.

We meet Cash as she faces two major shake-ups to her life. The last guy she slept with visits town, and when she goes on a date with him, he casually reveals he’s there to open a bar that will almost certainly drive Joyce’s out of business. After ditching him, she begins frantically trying to hatch a plan to save the bar, including trying to convince the out-of-town owners to pay to renovate. Of course, she and Inez work closely together to plan, which leads to the next shake-up: Cash has a… steamy dream about her best friend.

Cash reassures herself that this doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but she continues to have these dreams every night, and soon she can’t look at Inez without picturing them playing out. Even as her attraction to Inez becomes harder and harder to explain away, Cash worries about endangering their relationship. As you can imagine, this denial combines with miscommunication between Inez and Cash, causing the tension to just keep ratcheting up until the final chapters.

There were some aspects of this that didn’t land with me. For example, the ex turns out to be such a mustache-twirling homophobic villain that he felt cartoonish—though of course people like that do exist. On the other hand, Inez sometimes felt too good to be true, but she feels more realistic later in the novel. It was also hard for me personally to be too invested in fighting for a bar. Still, I found Cash’s obliviousness to her own queerness charming, and I felt for her, so I was invested in seeing how her and Inez’s story wrapped up.

If you’re a fan of friends-to-lovers romances, useless lesbians (affectionate), small town romances, single mom main characters, and coming out to yourself stories, I recommend this one, which comes out on July 2nd.

7 Young Adult Sapphic Books With Latinx Representation

Sapphic Latinx Young Adult Books graphic

The sapphic spectrum runs far and wide, which is why it’s important to remember to add a little diversity to your reading list. You may have missed some of these spectacular reads as your never-ending TBR pile grows.

Diamond City by Francesca FloreDiamond City and Shadow City by Francesca Flores

Two for one! The first book in the Diamond and Steel duology, Diamond City, follows Aina Solís as she becomes an assassin to survive after her parents’ murder. Diamond City is a place filled with darkness, tyranny and magic, and Aina must find a way to live in a world that wants her dead.

The sequel, Shadow City, was just released today (January 26, 2021). It continues Aina’s story as she struggles to gain control of an assassin empire after fighting her way to the top of the criminal ranks.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida CordovaLabyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

The first in the Brooklyn Brujas trilogy follows middle sister Alex Mortiz as she quickly approaches her Death Day, a bruja’s right of passage in this magical world. Terrified of her powers and wanting to be rid of them, Alex casts a Canto with devastating consequences. She must fight her way through the magical realm of Los Lagos to rescue her family before it’s too late to save them.

The Summer of Jordi PerezThe Summer of Jordi Pérez by Amy Spalding

Abby Ives has always been satisfied with playing sidekick to others’ stories. She’s content to run her plus-size style blog as she dreams of shaking up the fashion world. But one summer, everything changes. She lands a dream internship at a local boutique and falls for fellow intern Jordi Pérez. Things can’t be so simple of course, as they develop feelings for each other as they both compete for a coveted job at the shop after the internship ends.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby RiveraJuliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Juliet Milagros Palante comes out to her mom and isn’t sure she’ll ever speak to her again. But that doesn’t stop her from leaving the Bronx to go to Portland, Oregon for an internship with her favorite author, Harlowe Brisbane.

It’s a life-changing summer for Juliet as she navigates the whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing and finds herself. A classic coming of age tale.

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay MejiaWe Set the Dark on Fire and We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Another double set! In We Set the Dark on Fire, Daniela Vargas, a student at Medio School for Girls, lives in a society that defines her place as a woman in two ways only: running a husband’s household or raising his children. But she’s living a lie, as her parents forged papers to get her into this school, and she must keep the secret as her upcoming nuptials to a politico’s son quickly approach. She has to decide if she upholds everything her parents fought for or if she will choose another path for herself.

The follow-up book, We Unleash the Merciless Storm, is Carmen Santos’ story. On the other side of Medio, the oppressed fight for their freedom. Carmen is committed to the resistance group, La Voz. So much so she’s spent years undercover, but now that her cover is blown, she must return her home to an island on the brink of civil war. Carmen must choose between breaking away from her community to save the girl she loves or embracing her full, rebel identity.

What are your favorite bi or lesbian Latina YA books? Let us know what we missed in the comments!