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Not That I'd Kiss A Girl

Not That I'd Kiss A Girl

By Lil O’Brien

I struggled to write this review. Like, a lot. For weeks after I finished the book I would sit down at my laptop and say out loud, to no one, “I don’t want to write this.”

Not because it’s not a good book. It is! Sweet, funny, and sad. Insightful and raunchy. It’s got the beautifully dry sense of humour and candid, call-a-spade-a-spade, informalness that I love about kiwi culture and a lot of New Zealand writing. 

O’Brien is a straight shooter - I imagine she writes just as she speaks. By the end of the book you feel as though you’ve made a new friend; one who’s shared their life with you, and made you laugh, cry and gasp while doing it.

“After a day of sightseeing we were in bed having sex, when I realised the sounds coming from her as her head lolled against my shoulder were not whimpers of pleasure but snores. 

Oh, thank god, I thought. Thank bloody god she’s asleep.

And that’s how I knew I had to call it.”

Part of what makes this book so charming is O’Brien’s commitment to sharing everything. All the awkward bits of being young and falling in love, of self discovery. The memories you think back on and wince. She lays them out on the page, and lets you laugh along with her.

Her description of using a strap-on for the first time left me in tears. I laughed so hard I scared my cat off the bed (if that isn’t the gayest couple of sentences I’ve ever written I will eat my Doc Martins). 

What made this review hard is how much this book reminded me of my own experiences growing up. The accidental outing, O’Brien’s difficulty at school and with her family, her difficulties navigating gay bars and queer communities while figuring out her own identity. This book is a joy to read, but it broke my heart too. Lil O’Brien went through so many of the same experiences I’ve had, and she did it with grace and a sense of humour, and the kindness to come out the other side as an advocate for other people’s rights.

So I’m sitting here trying to explain that you should read this book because sometimes it’s good to laugh at your own heartbreak. This book will help you see the funny side of your own struggles. If you’re still young and figuring out who you are, I think it’s a beautiful road map. If you came of age before smartphones, it’s a wonderful reminder of how things used to be. 


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