When Amelia Possanza moved to Brooklyn to build a life of her own, she found herself surrounded by queer stories: she read them on landmark placards, overheard them on the pool deck when she joined the world's largest LGBTQ swim team, and even watched them on TV in her cockroach-infested apartment. These stories inspired her to seek out lesbians throughout history who could become her role models, in romance and in life. Centered around seven love stories for the ages, this is Possanza's journey into the archives to recover the personal histories of lesbians in the twentieth century: who they were, how they loved, why their stories were destroyed, and where their memories echo and live on.
[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.