[Possanza] has bridged the historical and the memoir ... The more time she spends covering her bases, the more difficult it is to see what’s under her feet. This is a shame because Possanza tells compelling, loving stories of lesbians who were not yet “lesbians,” as we’ve come to know them.
Ambitious ... Possanza uses her own life as map, evidence, and spackle ... This technique is not always so graceful ... Possanza’s use of first-person can at times smudge her critical lens ... The marketing copy describes Lesbian Love Story as a perfect fit 'for readers of Saidiya Hartman and Jeanette Winterson,' but absent a deeper engagement with Hartman, Possanza seems to imply her methodological approach sprang, fully formed, from her own imagination ... Possanza has a frustrating tendency to expound on a subject for several paragraphs, several pages—in one case a jaw-dropping twenty pages—before lackadaisically mentioning the researcher whose work she has been relying on ... Possanza...adopts a moralistic, didactic tone throughout Lesbian Love Story that feels more appropriate for children’s literature.
I think a lot of the stories Possanza uncovered for this book will be unfamiliar to people — both queer and not queer — and that is part of what makes reading it so enthralling ... As you’re reading through the narrative Possanza was able to piece together and, sometimes, creatively fill in the missing pieces of the lives of these people, she also expertly weaves in the stories of her own life that have some relation to the stories she’s unearthed for us.
Part archival research and part memoir ... As she unearths these romantic stories, Possanza also identifies the gaps within them, the moments when she wants to know more. To fill these silences, she imagines the scenes she longs to see, engaging with history not as a disembodied historian but as a young lesbian who wants answers, who wants to find her people. Though a blueprint does not, and cannot, neatly emerge from this sea of stories, Possanza does find the space, movement and complexity provided by a multifaceted past to buoy her ongoing becoming.
Impressive ... Possanza stitches together personal memoir, painstaking research, and fictional imaginings with a fluid style and a sure hand ... Throughout, she weaves the threads beautifully. This is an outstanding work of literary scholarship that also delivers a vulnerable, intimate portrait of its author.