Handmade Holidays by ‘Nathan Burgoine. Ninestar Press. 2017.
I loved this queer Christmas story! It’s got a romance element, but just as central is the chosen family aspect, and the creation of family traditions in queer chosen families. It gave me so many feels, of all different sorts. This story visits the same queer chosen family at Christmas time over the course of 15 years, starting when the MC is 19 and having his first Christmas after his family kicked him out. It’s got lovely holiday moments, especially around tree decorating, and is both heartwarming and hilarious. I laughed out loud at a number of points.
We witness a lesbian couple come together and have children, a gay man move back home to a rural town he hates in order to take care of an ill parent, a trans woman come out as trans to her friends and family, a gay man partner with someone who treats his friends badly, isolates him from his chosen family and turn out to be a controlling jerk, and two close friends eventually (finally!) become lovers. The MC is a writer, and I enjoyed watching the arc of his writing career, especially the support he got from his friends.
I appreciated the trans rep in this story, for the most part, and thought that the coming out moment was sweet. There was a moment I found a bit troubling, where the trans woman character is grouped together with two fem gay men in the MC’s thoughts about a gay man who was anti-fem, and treated all three of them badly. It felt like a moment where someone could connect transmisogyny with fem hatred in gay community (and they definitely are connected, cuz they are both about misogyny), but without that clear connection in the text, it reads a bit like it implies that trans women are the same as fem gay men. In general, I wanted a bit more from this moment, where the privileged MC realizes that he welcomed someone into his life that hated most of his marginalized friends, and he hadn’t let himself really see those dynamics in action. It felt like a moment with a lot of potential that didn’t quite realize it.
I really liked watching this family shift over time, there was something so affirming in that, in watching them make traditions together, build lives that intertwine, keep returning to the importance of their relationships with each other. This is definitely a holiday story that feels deeply and beautifully queer, and I will be rereading it.
- Gay man MC
- Japanese American gay man love interest
- Lesbian secondary characters
- Gay men secondary characters
- Trans woman secondary character
- Bisexual man secondary character
- Queer man author
Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)
Being kicked out of blood family for being queer. Racism. Femme hatred. Fat hatred. Transmisogyny. Cheating. Controlling partner.
- Source of the book: ARC from the author
- I am friends with the author on Twitter.
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