I recently attended a book launch in Atlanta for Lauren Karcz’s (pronounced “cars”) debut novel, The Gallery of Unfinished Girls. I remember speaking with her at Becky Albertalli’s launch panel, but didn’t think she would remember me. I recall feeling very frazzled the other night, particularly because my friend and I got there a bit late (we couldn’t find the building for a while, and I basically drove around in circles until we spotted the sign). Lauren was in the midst of a Q&A session, to which I asked if she would be attending the Decatur Book Festival Labor Day weekend, and other events later this year. To my delight, the answer was yes!
She also remembered my face at least, when I finally got to get my copy signed. It was like every signing I’d been to previously; small, intimate, and just the right amount of crowded. There were even some awesome flamingo cookies and carbonated lemonade (yum!) Lauren is a joy to talk to, and I can’t wait to see her again.
On to my review.
In short: I loved it.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Reading this book (especially towards the middle) gave me such a surreal experience. I loved the almost mysterious way she describes the estate, and how art is almost sentient. The fact that art can bring out the best version of you struck a chord with me, both as a writer and a painter (acrylic’s my preference).
Another thing is that the characters are POC, and Lauren explained at the launch how strongly she feels there needs to be diversity in publishing, so as a white woman writing queer characters of color, she hired many sensitivity readers to assure that she was doing it right, something I really admire about her.
So yes, the MC is a canon bisexual Puerto Rican girl who is in love with her best friend. Do they get together? No. Did they have to? Also no.
I’m glad she avoided the whole “let’s avoid acting like bisexuals exist” thing. Good job, Lauren. I saw myself in her (Mercy’s) world.
I sped through this book in a few hours. Once I started reading, it was hard to stop.
Fun fact(s): Dead Guy memorial was inspired by her high school. Also, the book originally didn’t have any flamingos, but when the cover was shown to her, Lauren loved it so much that she added them in. It’s a pretty gorgeous cover, isn’t it?
Buy it here: