In 1968, a seventeen-year-old queer girl traveled to Alaska disguised as a boy.
Tracy should have been a boy. Even her older brother Spencer says so, though he wouldn’t finish the thought with, “And I should have been a girl.”
Though both feel awkward in their own skin, they have to face who they are—queers in the late 60s.
When both are caught with gay partners, their lives and futures are endangered by their homophobic father as their mother struggles to defend them.
While the Vietnam War threatens to take Spencer away, Tracy and her father wage a war of their own, each trying to save the sweet, talented pianist.
At seventeen, Tracy dresses as a boy and leaves her parents in turmoil, with only the slimmest hope of finding peace within herself. She journeys to a girl with a guitar, calling to her from a photo, “Come to Alaska. We’d be great friends.”
Maybe even The MoonStone Girls.
Trigger Warnings: homophobia, internalized homophobia, slurs, death, suicide, car accident, insensitive language/jokes, PTSD.
Read an Excerpt here.
The synopsis gives the impression that The MoonStone Girls is about traveling on the road with Tracy to Alaska. Nope. Tracy does travel to Alaska for about a chapter or two, but her story is about so much more.
Brooke Skipstone tells the story of a brother and sister who are both queer. Half of the book is about what life is like for Tracy and her brother Spencer living in San Antonio, Texas between 1967 and 1968. Family dysfunction is putting it mildly as their father suffers a multitude of archaic ideas that were (are) very common for that time period. Add in the draft for Vietnam and everything is compounded. This was a very tough section for me to read because I hate abuse of any kind and Tracy’s father is a douche. Just saying.
“Your first job is to be happy with yourself. Because if you aren’t, who else will be?”Loc 3936
Tracy is a phenomenal character. A true phoenix rising above the crap of judgment in her life. I don’t want to give too much away, but I seriously love Tracy. I will confess that Skipstone got me to cry. There is a scene between Spencer, Tracy, and their mother that just gutted me. I am tearing up just remembering it.
I love the supporting cast. I want to see more of Eva and Mary. You know at one point that Eva must break free of her family’s domination. Her firecracker personality just makes you want to see what fun she has in the future. Mary is her opposite, but her willingness to openly stand by Tracy after everything happens with Eva is commendable. Then there is my sweet young man Pablo. (Here I go tearing up again.) Pablo deserves a love story after what he has been through. His family is awesome. I just want the best for these characters so I really hope Skipstone gives us a happy ending for them.
“I loved your son from the bottom of my heart. I would have taken care of him and lived with him forever, if he’d given me the opportunity. You were very lucky to be his father.”Loc. 3593
I am not giving away much about Alaska because that is the romance of Tracy and Jackie. I will say that the synopsis gives the impression of possible transgender identity, but this is not the case with Tracy. Tracy’s journey to Alaska and her time there allows her to fully evolve and accept herself in ways she previously could not.
“They want boys to shower and crap in public to prove they’re not gay,” I said. “If you stay limp among all those wet, soapy guys, you’re good to go. Girls get stalls to ensure they don’t become gay.”Loc. 719
The MoonStone Girls is a journey back for Tracy as she looks upon her life. Brooke Skipstone gives us a heartbreaking yet empowering heroine in Tracy. Skipstone kept me engaged throughout Tracy’s story and the other characters. It is a rollercoaster of emotion that at the end you don’t know if you want to get off because damn what a ride.
I received an ARC of this book and I am writing a review without prejudice and voluntarily.
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Publisher: Skipstone Publishing, February 14th 2022
Settings: 1967/68 San Antonio, TX and Camp Wonder, Alaska, U.S.
SC: Gay, Lesbian, Black, Mexican, Bisexual, Transgender