This isn't going to be a review so much as a list of things I loved about Honey Girl. While not really a romance--it leans much more toward commercial fiction and a single character arc--Honey Girl is a gorgeous story of loneliness and hope and love.
Grace Porter is 29 and just finished her doctorate in astronomy. Though she's got the support of a mentor and is highly qualified, she's struggling to find a job because the field is white, straight and male. Porter's Black father is a career military man and has pushed her to be the best. After 11 years and a couple of soul-crushing rejections based in racial, gender and queer oppression, Porter is bone-deep tired.
As we learn, she's not just tired, she's also dealing with depression and anxiety. The guilt she feels, the loneliness and the exhaustion could have made this an emotionally draining book, but it's not. Rogers' prose is beautiful, haunting and so emotionally resonant that I read (listened) to this book in one day. Rogers takes small moments, like when Porter is looking up at the sky in a moment of loss, and finds that magic spot between purple prose and beige prose. She repeats phrases, tying moments and people together throughout. And she's created these two dynamic found families that I loved reading about. (The romance reader in me is hoping for each of them to get their own book.)
Honey Girl begins with Porter waking up the morning after she drunkenly marries Yuki, something totally out of character for her. Yuki lives in New York City, on the opposite side of the country and when not waitressing has a late-night radio show where she talks about "lonely creatures" and tells monster stories from all times and places. Both women have found a queer, racially diverse group of friends and roommates and when Porter decides to spend the summer with Yuki, she's welcomed, even as the new connections remind her of the people she misses.
I could go on about Porter's complicated relationships with her strict father and her flighty white mother and their post-divorce relationships, about Porter's journey with a series of mental health professionals, or the romance itself, but I want you to read it yourself.
Grace Porter is sad and disillusioned, trying really hard to make it in a world that doesn't want her to succeed, but she's also so very loved and has so much love to give back. Honey Girl is excellent and I can't wait to read what Morgan Rogers writes next.
Audio Notes: I read an audio copy of this book courtesy of the publisher, Harper Audio. (I also bought a print copy.) Since the book is in single POV, having a single narrator was a natural choice and I think York Whitaker did a great job capturing the overall mood of the book. As with a lot of f/f stories, however, I struggled a bit with distinguishing one woman's voice from the other's. Whitaker doesn't do many distinct voices, so if that's something you need as a reader, you might want to try another format. That said, the narration was great and audio was a good choice for me. Whitaker's smooth voice worked particularly well for moments like when Yuki is telling a story on her radio show or Porter is thinking about her future.
Content Warnings: parent was injured in military service--mentions of amputation and rehab, depression and anxiety, mentions of self-harm, homophobia, racism, misogyny, past: secondary character parental death
I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher for review, but I also purchased a print copy of my own.