With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.
Honey Girl is a unique and beautifully written novel. Written in third-person present, it may take a few pages to mentally adjust to the prose, simply due to the fact that it’s a tense/perspective not often used. However, the overall diction and structure of the sentences are highly poetic which lends itself to the immediacy of third-person present. Furthermore, the lyricism of the novel lends itself to gorgeous and lyrical writing ... If readers go in expecting a frothy rom-com, they may be disappointed by the novel’s deeper, thoughtful ruminations on self and the universe. But if readers know upfront that the novel is a tender exploration of identity and place that also has a sweet love story, there’s no way they’ll be able to resist the golden warmth of Honey Girl’s necessary and unique coming-of-age story.
The story unfolds in ways that defy neat labels of 'romance' or 'coming-of-age,' although there are strong elements of both. Instead, Rogers leans into the messy constellation of life for a young, Black, queer professional in a world that doesn’t always — or almost ever — make sense ... Porter is an engaging protagonist, and she is enriched by the characters around her ... centers queer friendship above all else. Both Porter and Yuki have rich queer community, and these characters are fully rendered and crucial to the scaffolding of the story. It is refreshing, and moving, to read a book about queer love that ripples much further out than the narrow definition of love that heterosexual culture tells us is primary. The love between friends can be, and often is, more profound than any other kind of love ... At times, Honey Girl veers into the saccharine. It drips with the astronomical imagery, and wears a groove in its circling back on its use of metaphors ... But there is something to be said for saccharine, and something to be said for a groove, too. Especially in a book that in many ways is about working one’s way through feeling stuck, repetition has its place. And in a love story, who doesn’t like a little sweetness? ... an absorbing read, and deftly captures the trappings of millennial life, especially for queer Black, Indigenous and people of color characters in American cities. Its expansion on what a love story can be feels restorative, especially as we cross the threshold into our second year of a pandemic during which expressing love has become more important than ever. This is the kind of non-YA coming-of-age novel the world could use more of.
... spins a vibrating tension between silken, lyrical imagery, and anxiety-inducing plot ... the book itself sometimes seems like it is finding its own place in the world. In its best moments, this style makes the novel shine, the poetic details enhancing the drama to even greater heights. However, this also can cause a sense of disconnect, with the prose not always matching up with the action described on the page ... In cases like this, it can seem like the writing is trying too hard, attempting to impress the reader with pretty words without substance ... Rogers is able to, at points, find beautiful ways to still tell the story ... Another place that Rogers’ writing shines is in Grace and Yuki’s text exchanges. While sometimes inserting text-speak into writing feels forced, Rogers clearly rises to the occasion as a digital native ... Rogers makes the payoff of all this building tension absolutely worth it, with a climax of emotion that definitely made me sniffle through the last dozen pages. Unfortunately, one fault in Rogers’ ability to create strong emotional climaxes is that she is almost too good in forming them, and so sometimes these scenes seemed unearned. Before the final climax, Grace encounters a smaller conflict with a friend, and the intensity of the encounter isn’t completely balanced by the lead-up to it. This makes the argument feel a bit out of place instead of the rewarding release it could have been ... Ultimately, however, Honey Girl is able to present a novel and thoughtful take on growing up. It has moments both beautiful and painful, and it doesn’t shy away from either. While it might have taken a couple chapters to find its footing, the book is able to reach a strong and satisfying conclusion, much like Grace herself. And just like Grace is able to face her life with new experience and energy by the end of the novel, this book only marks the beginning for what I believe Rogers can accomplish in her writing.