I am personally not a fan of historical fiction, so when this novel started to show characteristics of one, I was a little hesitant to continue. I am, however, a sucker for a good love story, so I decided to stick with it. Gosh! I am so happy I did! Telegraph Club showed me a world I would have never known or seen before. The characters are greatly developed throughout the novel and you are literally rooting for them the whole novel!
The novel begins in 1950s San Francisco where Lily Hu is just starting her senior year in high school. She comes from a very traditional Chinese family and she is expected to adhere to all of their rules, including no dating. Through the beginning of the novel, Lo hints at the fact that Lily is exploring her sexuality, but is hesitant to admit anything because even her best friend Shirley (who is also Chinese) has been brought up to believe homosexuality is wrong. In the newspaper, Lily sees Tommy, a male impersonator, performing at the Telegraph Club and Lily is dying to see them perform. When Lily meets Kathleen “Kath” Miller, her world is turned upside down. Kath befriends Lily and allows Lily to express herself in a way that she has never expressed herself before. The reader learns that the Telegraph Club and the other women that spend time there have the potential to change Lily’s life and helps her to accept herself for who she really is.
This novel is considered a YA read because of the main characters’ ages and “the coming of age” theme in the novel as well as going against the status quo. I believe that all teens, both LGBTQ+ and straight, should be able to see themselves in a romance novel. Being a friend of gay and lesbian individuals, Lily’s “coming out” story is similar to the stories that I have heard from my own friends. They experience feelings or different events that happened to them to confirm that they are indeed gay or lesbian. This novel also accurately represents those who may not be accepting of their lifestyle and the impact it can have on the person coming out. Beautifully written novel! Highly recommended!