Tag Archives: Tropes

Stop Burying Your Gays – Breaking The Trope – PRIDE 2019

Have you ever gotten your hands on a great LGBTQ book, or got excited for a new tv show with queer characters, only to be let down by those lovely characters being killed off? Sometimes it’s to further the main character’s plot, sometimes it’s because of their identity, and sometimes…there’s just no reason. If you have then you have had the unfortunate run-in with the “Bury Your Gays” trope.

Originally, Bury Your Gays is a literary trope which originated in the late 19th century, gained traction in the early 20th century, and has continued to appear in novels, plays, films, and television series throughout the past one hundred plus years; it persists in western media in modern times despite changing social attitudes towards homosexuality and the LGBTQ+ community in general. In short, Bury Your Gays is no longer necessary, and its implementation is no longer the refuge it once was.

To help combat this trope, here are some of our favorite LGBTQ novels (with very much alive queer characters!) just in time for Pride Month!

Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal
When a birth defect wipes out the planet’s entire population of men, Woman World rises out of society’s ashes. Dhaliwal’s infectiously funny instagram comic follows the rebuilding process, tracking a group of women who have rallied together under the flag of “Beyonce’s Thighs.” Only Grandma remembers the distant past, a civilization of segway-riding mall cops, Blockbuster movie rental shops, and “That’s What She Said” jokes. For the most part, Woman World’s residents are focused on their struggles with unrequited love and anxiety, not to mention that whole “survival of humanity” thing.

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
Arguably Patricia Highsmith’s finest, The Price of Salt is the story of Therese Belivet, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, whose salvation arrives one day in the form of Carol Aird, an alluring suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce. They fall in love and set out across the United States, pursued by a private investigator who eventually blackmails Carol into a choice between her daughter and her lover.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last. Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, LESS is, above all, a love story.

The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before the car accident that changed everything. Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually end happily—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story.

Girl Mans Up by M.E. Girard
All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth–that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.

Let us know some of your faves!
Happy Reading and Happy Pride!

Bibliophile Confessions…On Love Triangles

There are tropes in literature that every reader loves…and hates.


“Tropes” are the very common and recurring themes in literature that help us, as a species that loves categorization and patterns, keep stories straight in our heads.  Tropes let us know, essentially, what happens in the course of the story, and define several rules for the book from the outset.  There are “locked room” mysteries, for example, in which a detective character must solve a seemingly impossible crime, or a “trouble with robots” trope in science fiction, where the line between human and machine inevitably becomes blurred, or the “unlikely hero/heroine” trope, where the least likely character somehow manages to rise to the occasion and save the day.

In many ways, tropes are like foods in a grocery store.  We are familiar, to some extent, with most of them, and we know the ones that we love, ones that we hate, and ones that we really intend to try one of these days.  Largely, it’s all a matter of personal taste, and there is no shame in loving–or hating–a particular trope.

For example, I cannot handle love triangles.
….you know those stories where the heroine (and it’s usually a heroine) must choose between two potential love interests?  Yeah.  Those.

Casablanca: One of cinema’s most famous love triangles.

As an objective reader, I can wholly appreciate the value of love triangles…it gives the heroine (let’s just stick with the idea of a heroine here) a chance to choose her own future, with each of her potential heroes symbolizing the potential paths for her to choose.  It also adds bucket-loads of drama to a plot, because of all the uncertainty, hope, and despair implicit in every scene.

My problem with love triangles?  In probably 97% of cases, I choose the wrong person.

It all started when I was in sixth grade, with a historical adventure novel that isn’t in the NOBLE system, so it shall remain anonymous, in which a young heroine who had travelled out to Colorado territory was being courted by two gentlemen: one a young journalist whom she met on the train at the outset of her journey, and the other, a cattle rancher who was tied to the land and devoted to the promise of the American West.  I was in love with the journalist.  Absolutely head-over-heels dippy over him.  And in the end…the heroine chose to stay in with the cattle rancher.

And I didn’t speak to anyone for three days.

Love-TriangleAnd ever since then, I invariably fall in love with the unsuccessful suitor.  That’s why I was inconsolable at the end of Tale of Two Cities (which made for an extremely awkward high school English class); it’s why I could never enjoy Wuthering Heights as much as I should; for crying out loud, even if one of them turns out to be a villain, I’m still the weirdo sitting there with a little pennant, rooting for him have a happy ending!

Again, this is in no way a judgement on love triangles, or those who love them.  I wish I could.  However, there are a few books with love triangles that I could enjoy, and I figured, as a show of good faith, that I’d point them out to you.  Hopefully those readers who revel in the drama of love triangles will find some new stories to savor, and those who, like me, tend to shy away from them, will find the incentive to give one a try.

3176362A Rogue By Any Other NameSarah MacLean is one of my favorite romance authors of all time, so when the opening book of her Rule of Scoundrels book featured a fairly prominent love triangle, I forced myself to hold on tight and brave it out.  Her heroine, Penelope, has been convinced by years of unsuccessful courtships and a broken engagement that true love is not for her, especially after her father places an enormous dowry on her head in order to attract suitors.  But when the Marquis of Bourne, Penelope’s first love who was forced to flee society a decade earlier, suddenly returns, demanding Penelope’s hand, she finds that true love may be far more complicated than she ever imagined.  This is one of those books where the two heroes of the story represent perfectly the two paths open to the heroine, and MacLean makes Penelope’s choice emotional without beings devastating.  Best of all, she always provides all of her characters with agency and humanity, and in this case gives Penelope’s unsuccessful suitor the chance to be a hero in his own right.

3140489Anna and the French Kiss: This book turns the love triangle trope on its ear a bit, by making the heroine one of two women in the hero’s life–but doing it in a way that doesn’t compromise the heroine’s individuality or either woman’s potential for happiness.  Anna first meets Etienne St. Clair when her father unexpectedly ships her off to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year of high school.  Though Anna knows, deep down, that Etienne could be perfect for her, she also knows that he’s taken–and she still hasn’t forgotten the crush she left back home in Atlanta.  What I particularly loved about this book was the real and honest friendship that developed between Anna and Etienne.  Their genuine concern for each other, regardless of the other people in their lives, made this love triangle work for me, because they always had each other’s best interests at heart, no matter what.  It doesn’t hurt that this is a ridiculously romantic and heart-picklingly sweet story, making it impossible not to smile while reading, no matter what.

1603939The Phantom of the Opera: Gaston Leroux’s classic is surely the love triangle to beat all triangles, as the innocent, beautiful, and talented opera singer, Christine, finds herself torn between her recently-returned childhood love, and the mysterious, masked man who hides in the cellars of the Paris Opera House, and teaches her how to sing like an angel.  Remember when I said that even when a character turns out to be a villain, I still root for them?  Yup, this is that book.  But I would argue it’s pretty hard for a reader not to feel for Erik, the man behind the mask, after his long, fascinating and painful history is revealed, or want to follow him, even after the final pages have turned….