Crystal’s House of Queers was a completely unique, gripping and empowering read! I’ve never read a book with so many complex and special characters, and the queer and disability representation was so honest and positive. There was also some amazing artwork included in it that added to the very special feeling. Some parts were perhaps a bit too unrealistic for this book to be fully as gripping as it could have been, but it was overall a very entertaining and emotional read.
The story follows 18-year-old Crystal, who lives in rural Alaska with her grandparents and brother after having been abandoned by her drug-addicted parents at a young age. Both Crystal and her brother JD were affected by their mother’s drinking and drug use during pregnancy and have special needs. But Crystal isn’t just struggling with her disability, she’s also secretly in love with her best friend Haley, and suffering from the small town’s toxic masculinity with bullying and constant harassment and on top of that, her grandparents are hospitalized with Covid. Haley is repeatedly abused by her boyfriend, and when Crystal gets enough one day and reports him, she triggers a chain of events that will change her life and both bring back her past and help her create a new future for herself and her loved ones.
I loved the queer representation and the complex characters. I’ve never read a book with main characters dealing with special needs, where the disability was described in such an honest yet positive way. Both Crystal and JD struggle in school and with being bullied, and Brooke Skipstone never tried to shy away from their challenges, but she also did a brilliant job showing how gifted and talented they were in other ways and how brave, strong, kind and artistic Crystal was. The artwork included in the book that Crystal draw was so beautiful and added so much to the narrative.
Some things were a bit unrealistic and the dialogues were at times sassy and brilliant, but at other times the writing style lacked in flow and felt a little bit too much tell rather than show. There was also so much going on that the story felt slightly overloaded. The story took place during a week, showing all things happening after Crystal saves Haley from the abuse, but there were enough things and drama happening that easily could have lasted a month, or even a year.
But overall, Crystal’s House of Queers was a heart-wrenching and unique queer coming of age story full of friendship, love, acceptance and forgiveness, sexual discovery and the creation of a queer safe haven for others suffering from abuse and harassments. I loved the positive undertone even though there were so many difficult topics (abuse, addiction, disability, teenage pregnancy, homophobia and more) and how strong and able all female characters were portrayed, which in the end really made it such an empowering story!
3.5 stars rounding up to 4
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster Amy Spalding André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.F. White C.G. Drews Charli Meadows Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colette Davison Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Debbie Schrack Deborah Harkness Delia Owens Deonn Tracy D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray Jesse H. Reign John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Owen Lach Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Robin Gow Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Sasha Laurens Saundra Mitchell Serena Bell Shannon O’Connor Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tamara Girardi Teagan Hunter Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tobly McSmith Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard V.L. Stuart Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez