With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.
This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her father’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.
In New York, she’s able to ignore all the annoying questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.
- Title: Honey Girl
- Author: Morgan Rogers
- Publication Date: February 23, 2021
- Publisher: Park Row
- Genre: Contemporary, Coming of Age
- Targeted Age Range: Adult
- Trigger Warnings: discussion and depictions of mental illness, self-harm (scratching skin, nails digging into skin as an anxiety coping mechanism, cutting), past suicide attempt by a side character, anti-Blackness, racism, homophobia, casual alcohol consumption, minor drug use (marijuana), mentions of war, PTSD, past parent death (side character), grief, medical talk, self-destructive behavior, police, amputation (chapter 4)
- Rating: ★★★★★
If I had to sum up Honey Girl in one word, it’d simply be exquisite. It’s a tale spun out of stars; a million warm hugs and tough-love conversations wrapped in tales of lonely monsters and folklore. Every once in a while, you’ll find a book – or maybe, the book has found you, I’m not really sure how the magic of books works – that seems to be exactly what you need to hear at that moment. A story that has nestled its way into your soul, and has said “I’ve made myself a permanent home here”. Honey Girl is one of those books, for me.
Honey Girl had been on my radar for a while. When I saw Morgan’s tweet describing Honey Girl as “lesbians, married in vegas, queer found fam, coming of age, SPACE”, I immediately added it to my TBR and to my “most anticipated 2021 releases” list. I had actually paired it with folklore for my Book Recs: 2021 Releases Based off of Your Favorite Taylor Swift Album post, and I’m happy to say that I was right. What I didn’t expect, however, was how accurate folklore would be for Honey Girl — not because of any of the songs I listed, however, but because of mirrorball and this is me trying.
As someone who has spent her entire life in academia (literally — I graduated college, jumped straight into grad school, and then started working in academia right after) and has also been wondering if my current profession and field are the right choice for me, Honey Girl really hit home, and forced me to reexamine my life. I often feel like coming-of-age stories are centered around characters in their teens, when we’re all figuring ourselves out, and to have a story centered around a character who is in her late 20s was simply so special.
Needless to say, Grace was a character I could really empathize with. Her story, her desire to please everyone around her, the way she worked too hard because she thought she was undeserving — all of that was very real and were things I could connect to so deeply.
“I have to do it right. I have to be the best; I can’t be anything else. It makes me feel sick that I’m not. It makes me feel worthless.”
When you work in academia, especially as someone who isn’t white and isn’t old, you learn early on that you have to find your people. And that’s something that Grace does. Grace’s mentor reminded me of all the mentors that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with and learn from, as well as the kindred spirits that I’m lucky to call my coworkers. I actually loved Honey Girl so much that I gifted a couple preorders to my coworkers-turned-friends who were going through similar existential crises, with a note attached saying “I hope this helps you as much as it helped me.” Sometimes it’s just easier to digest hard-hitting truths when it comes in the form of fiction.
Rogers has this perfect way of encapsulating the millennial existential crisis, and the gifted kid burnout experience. It’s wrapped up in some of the most relatable, witty one-liners, brutally honest truths, and also words of wisdom. I’m an only child, but I highly suspect Honey Girl is how conversations with an older, wiser sibling would feel.
As a love interest, I absolutely adored Yuki. Yuki, with her stories and her wisdom and her heart that is just so big. I loved reading about Yuki and Grace’s relationship, watching them get to know each other and trying to figure out how they fit into each other’s lives.
Honey Girl boasts a fascinating cast of characters. From Grace’s friends back in Portland, her family, to Yuki’s chosen family, I was enthralled by them all. All of their stories, their struggles and their wisdom were perfectly woven into the storyline, making them all vivid and just as real and fascinating as Grace was. Their conversations and relationships with Grace (and each other) made it evident that Grace was able to get to where she does by the end of Honey Girl because of her strong support system. As someone who has grown up and moved from place to place, and has friends in every corner of the world, I really appreciated the underlying theme of how friendships will follow you throughout life, and your friends will always be there for you – no matter the physical distance.
Morgan Rogers is a brilliant wordsmith; her words have a way of making you feel like you’re there in the story. I want to frame her words and hang them in a museum, tattoo them on my skin, imprint them in my brain – you get the idea. Point being, Rogers’ writing is simply beautiful. There’s no other word for it.
I thoroughly enjoyed Honey Girl, and would strongly recommend it to anyone and everyone I know. As I’m not Black, I highly encourage you to seek out ownvoices reviewers, such as this one.
Morgan Rogers is a queer black millennial. She writes books for queer girls that are looking for their place in the world. She lives in Maryland and has a Shih Tzu named Nico and a cat named Grace that she would love to write into a story one day. HONEY GIRL is her debut novel.
Have you had the chance to read Honey Girl yet? Will you be picking up a copy? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!