Book Review Interview

Queer Books, Queer Readers: Jessica Brazeal Recommends A Little Life

Jessica Brazeal Queer Books Queer Readers

Hello! My name is Jessica Brazeal (she/her) and I am a therapist by day, reader by night hailing from Dallas, Texas. I work with sex trafficking survivors at an organization called New Friends New Life where I oversee all of our program services. I have been married to my wife, the love of my life, Kelly, for almost 4 years. I love to read, always have, and also love so many bookish things as a part of the hobby of reading: reading challenge spreadsheets, my Goodreads account, organizing and reorganizing my library shelves, I could go on. You can find me on Goodreads for sure as well as on Instagram.

What queer book have you chosen to share with our readers today?

The book I’ve chosen to share is “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara. It is a fictional story about four friends beginning when they are in college and as they progress to adulthood. As the story progresses, it also narrows in its focus to become about one of the friends, Jude St. Francis. It was also nominated for some awards…Booker Prize Nominee (2015), Dayton Literary Peace Prize Nominee, Fiction (2016), Women’s Prize for Fiction Nominee (2016), Andrew Carnegie Medal Nominee, Fiction (Shortlist) (2016), National Book Award Finalist, Fiction (2015), Kirkus Prize, Fiction (2015), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee, Fiction (2015), Waterstones Book of the Year Nominee (2015), Jarl Hellemann -palkinto (2017), International Dublin Literary Award Nominee, Shortlist (2017), Blogistanian Globalia (2017).

Why is this book one of your favorites?

 This is actually my very favorite book of all time. Jude breaks my heart into a million tiny little pieces. I love him so much that one of our dogs is named after him. I attached a picture of our pup too. For me, this book spoke to me at the very correct time and place. I was falling in love with my best friend at the time that I read this in much the same way that happens for two of the characters and it gave me an externalized example of just how beautiful our love was and also how deeply my love for her went. There were areas of my life where I was not experiencing a great deal of support for our relationship, so this book was a healing and validating experience for me. It is 750 pages and I read it in 5 days. Just couldn’t put it down. 

Jude, named after one of the main characters of A Little Life.

How would you describe yourself as a reader?

I would describe myself as a voracious and varied reader. I read a LOT and I read lots of different kinds of things. I usually always have a novel, non-fiction audiobook and a book for work going all at the same time. I am also a reader that is highly driven by reading challenges, so this keeps the momentum moving forward. I am currently doing the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and the PopSugar Reading Challenge. 

As a queer person, have books helped you explore or express your queer identity?

Absolutely. I think as a queer person living in a largely conservative place and having a background in a conservative faith, reading and books have been such sources of comfort, support, validation, escape and celebration. I really love seeing more and more queer characters gracing the page, especially in YA literature. Let’s just create visibility and validation right from the start!

Other than reading, are there any queer nerdy recommendations that you would like to leave with our readers?

Well, if you haven’t watched the new season of Queer Eye, they came to Austin and it is fantastic. 

Thank you, Jessica!

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