What: The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride by Hayli Thomson
Who: Harper Collins
When: June 1st 2022
How: A copy of this novel was provided by Harper Collins for review.
Wicked funny and hella gay, it’s time for Taylor Parker to come out about a lot of things.
When Taylor is accepted as a finalist for a diverse writers’ internship at Saturday Night Live, it turns her life upside down. And if Taylor wants a shot at winning, she’ll have to come out about both of her secrets: she wants to be a comedian … and she’s a lesbian.
The only thing keeping Taylor from self-combusting is her pining for Salem’s most bewitching actress — out and proud classmate, Charlotte Grey. So when Taylor finds herself sitting opposite Charlotte to discuss a school project, Taylor’s simmering need to tell everyone exactly who she is and what she wants burns hotter than ever …
From Australian author Hayli Thomson comes a deeply relatable and hilarious queer rom-com about coming out as funny and gay.
The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride follows Taylor, a high school senior who enters a comedy sketch competition for diverse applicants and makes the short list. The problem? She hasn’t told anyone she’s a lesbian, and now she has only a few weeks to tell the people she loves before the entire world finds out. If she wins, of course.
The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride is set in Salem, and I absolutely loved the setting. The references to the Salem witch trials throughout the novel were both topical and funny. The book is set in 2016, just after Trump was elected president, and I couldn’t quite figure out why except that one of Taylor’s sketches was about him and how he loved to use the phrase “witch hunt” when it was men like him that were the persecutors, not the “witches”.
Confusion around the time period aside, there was quite a bit to enjoy in The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride. The book was chock-a-block full of funny references, and I have to admit that some of them did go over my head. But many didn’t, and I did have a soft snort here and there at the way Taylor described people and situations. I would have loved to actually read one of Taylor’s sketches because it did leave me wondering what they were like.
Romance plays a big role in The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride, which I wasn’t completely expecting but was also completely okay with. I liked how both Taylor and Charlotte were figuring things out together because neither of them had had a girlfriend before, so navigating a relationship was a first for the both of them. And you could really tell, because they didn’t always treat each other the way two people in a healthy relationship should. I would have liked some exploration of this, and maybe some acknowledgement around their subpar treatment of each other at times but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.
One thing I really loved about this book was the relationship between Taylor and her mum. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but I loved how close they were, and how (for the most part), Taylor felt she could be herself around her mum. I love reading strong mother-daughter relationships like this in YA, and we definitely do not have enough of it!
The last thing I’ll say about The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride is that I wish Taylor had had a bit more character growth. There were two instances that really stuck out at me. The first was her biphobia towards her close family friend that she had assumed was a lesbian, but shows up for her yearly holiday with a boyfriend and a baby on the way. At no point in time did anyone challenge Taylor’s biphobia, nor did Taylor have any internal monologue about her biphobia. It was only addressed in one sentence at the end, and even then, Taylor didn’t have any internal thoughts about it. The scene just moved on. I am all for characters having a learning curve because teenagers do not know everything there is to know about the queer community, and many have internalised what society has told them. But the thing about Taylor is that she didn’t learn anything at all.
The second was that Taylor’s best friend, Brooke, who is Black, had to tell Taylor how hard it is to be Black and live in America, especially after Trump’s election. I am assuming this was supposed to be some kind of teaching moment for white readers, but instead it really showed how self-absorbed Taylor was as a person that she didn’t even know or think about how life is different and difficult for Brooke. Even after Brooke told Taylor about her experiences, it was never mentioned again. I would have loved to see Taylor check in with Brooke, but instead, all their conversations were about her.
These were my main two qualms in the book, but overall I did quite enjoy the rest of it.
© 2022, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.
trigger warning biphobia, outing, absent parent, reference to racism and online harassment, lesbophobia, mention of Pulse shooting
biphobia, outing, absent parent, reference to racism and online harassment, lesbophobia, mention of Pulse shooting