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Something To Be Proud Of by Anna Zoe Quirke - Review

Sunday, June 30, 2024

I saw someone talking about this on Twitter so I pre ordered it. It arrived at the beginning of June and I picked it up as part of my queer reading for Pride month. I'm really glad I picked it up so quickly because it is so much fun and it really made me laugh. It's also got a lot of depth to it, a lot of heart. I would really recommend it for anyone in the LGBTQ+ community. 

The book starts with Imogen at a Pride festival. She's bisexual and autistic, and the noise of the festival and all the sensory stuff and everything else overwhelms her, and she ends up having a not great time there. She gets left behind by her 'friends' and starts thinking that she would love to create a more accessible Pride event (because nothing can be one hundred percent accessible). She starts sixth form (I think, there's not a lot at school but it seems like it's September and her year has just done GCSEs) and realises that her friends - whose names I don't even remember because they're not significant - aren't real friends so she ditches them. She wants to start an LGBTQ+ pressure group at school so she asks the headmistress if she can. She's fobbed off, being told that she'll need five members and one teacher involved. Imogen doesn't let that stop her, though, so she goes to ask Ollie if he will join.

Ollie is the gay captain of the football team. He's also part Japanese. He's out and proud. He love his mum and little sister, Maya, but things are difficult at home because his parents have just announced they're getting divorced. Ollie realises there's lots he's not being told about the situation, and his anger with his dad grows. I loved Ollie's family situation and what happened in it throughout the book. Ollie is totally bemused by Imogen's suggestion and refuses to join. But then Amelia hears about the group.

She is head girl and is going out with Josh. He's also on the football team so they're like the alpha couple. Amelia wants to join the group and makes Josh agree too. Imogen's favourite teacher, Mr Holland, agrees to host the group, and with Amelia's friend Maryam on board, they can form! So they do! Two other people turn up too. Imogen tells them her idea of making an accessible Pride event, and everyone is on board so they start fundraising. They also want to talk about the issue of gender neutral toilets because Clem is non binary and finds it hard to use any toilets. 

Imogen's family is more difficult and she has always felt alone, but in the book she makes genuine friends - people who accept her as she is. That leads to her coming out a little bit more! Plus Ollie finds exactly what kind of gay person he is and what that includes. There are so many surprises in this book and I loved all of them but don't want to spoil them. The book is funny and irreverent but also really poignant. I love how Ollie learnt that love comes in all forms. I love how Imogen accepted herself a lot more. I'm giving this four out of five and will definitely read something else by this same author! 

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