Book Review | Honey Girl

In Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers, Grace Porter has been ambitious all her life, after it was drilled into her by her military father. Now, with a new astronomy PhD, Grace goes to Las Vegas with friends for a rare chance to celebrate and let loose. However, a chance encounter with a girl there leads to a drunken marriage, which was definitely not in Grace’s five year plan. Now, she finds herself not only facing a sense of burnout and the intimidating job market—made even harder by her being a Black woman—she also has to wonder if her new wife can fit anywhere into her life. So she travels to New York for the summer to get to know Yuki Yamamoto, to see what might come of their relationship.

I quite liked this book! It’s very reflective and full of searching for meaning in one’s life, and the characters are lovely.

Grace is an excellent protagonist; you really get a sense of her internal turmoil and drive, as well as her desire to be known and loved, even if that’s a terrifying prospect. I also really rooted for her to work through her feelings of inadequacy and perfectionism, and it’s lovely to see her grow as a person. This is definitely a character-driven tale, and it’s done very well.

I also liked Yuki, though I honestly wanted to see more of her. I know this is mostly Grace’s story, but I wanted more of Yuki’s life too. However, she’s a great contrast and complement to Grace, and her set of quirky roommates in New York were such fun. I also liked all of Grace’s friends back home in Portland, and seeing the tender—if sometimes prickly—bond they all have. It’s another example I’ve read lately of friendships being portrayed in all their complex but wonderful depth.

I think sometimes the pacing of this book isn’t perfect; there’s a section about two-thirds in that feels like it really slows down and isn’t all that interesting. However, seeing Grace’s character development explored with such nuance does somewhat make up for this. (Even if I sometimes wish we were back in New York.)

Also, the theme of how difficult it is for Black people, especially women, to break into the science fields is fantastic. I also loved the discussions about learning to value yourself, even if not everything you do is perfect or exactly what you planned. These are important conversations to have, and this book will really make you consider them.

In the end, Honey Girl was a delightful read. The narration by York Whitaker is top-notch, and the characters feel lively and realistic. This is a book of yearning and loneliness, of vulnerability and messy personal growth. It’s sympathetic and sweet, and funny and difficult all at once—truly a remarkable coming-of-age tale. It’s not perfect, but most certainly worth reading!

Content note: The topics of mental health are discussed pretty frequently, and one character does occasionally self-harm. They get help immediately, and are not in serious danger, but I know that’s a tough thing for people to read about, so I wanted to give a heads up.

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