Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey
What I drank: wine. Lots of wine.
In Upright Women Wanted, award-winning author Sarah Gailey reinvents the pulp Western with an explicitly antifascist, near-future story of queer identity.
“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”
Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.
The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.
Drunk Overview: Esther runs away from home (as some background, this is a super conservative culture with a western flare thats set in thr future). She wants to join the librarians because she thinks theyll set her straight. But over time she finds out that they might not be the “upstanding women” she thought.
Drunk Thoughts: man this book feels like such a personal story. I know the author is non-binary and the journey that Esther takes seems to mirror that kind of realization.
- The characters are pretty great! Esther has clearly grown up in circumstances that have repressed her and its so clear in her reactions
- The other librarians feel so realistic in their lack of trust of Esther. They also had wonderfully diverse personalities that fit so so well with the world
- The world building was great too! Im not someone who is super into Westerns, but this story had so many element of things that I love: women being badass, a resistance that works in subtle ways, and slow burn relationships.
- This book was a novella and ultimately, I want a full book in this universe. Im so interested in seeing the fallout from some of the events in the book, or how certain relationships wojld continue to grow.
- Because this book is from Esther’s point of view, there’s so much that’s missed. Especially at the beginning.
- Having an unreliable narrator is what made the book so interesting as there is this disonance at the start.
- But again, thats part of the reason Id love more in this world
- Esther is only starting to learn about the lies she’s been told and what the world is like.
- And theres so much more to explore in this world.
- Which is the sign of good writing. With all the gaps, everything still felt fully realized.
What I’d Pair it With: rotgut whiskey used in an old fashioned. You get what you get akd you make the most out of it.