Stuff and Nonsense


6.10.2020

Pride Month: My Brother's Husband, Volume 1


My Brother's Husband is a sweet, tender manga about family, parenthood, love, and loss. Brothers Yaichi and Ryoji had grown apart as adults, with Ryoji eventually emigrating to Canada and marrying Mike. Some time later, Ryoji dies and big, burly, bearish Mike travels to Japan to visit Yaichi and his daughter.

Initially Yaichi's homophobia causes him to struggle with fulfilling his host and familial obligations to Mike, but gradually -- as he sees how warmly and kindly everyone else responds to Mike, how much his daughter Kana loves her new Canadian uncle, and how much Mike is clearly grieving for his husband -- Yaichi's heart opens and he becomes less prejudiced. His transformation is not flawless, but deeply human.

So there's all that heavy-sounding plot going on and yet it is lightly and gently told. There's a great deal to empathize with, as well as some amusing light-hearted moments, cross-cultural teasing, and a sweet domesticity to the whole thing. I greatly enjoyed My Brother's Husband, Volume 1 and I look forward to reading the Volume 2. I only wish there was a Volume 3 ...

My Brother's Husband, Volume 1 written by Gengorah Tagame w/ trans. by Anne Ishii. Pantheon Books, 2017.

6.03.2020

Pride Month: Hooked on You


While Anna's life is a busy one, she feels a bit bored with it. On her daughter's advice she decides to take up a new hobby and begins attending a group crochet class at a local craft shop. There she finds herself feeling all sorts of confusing things about the shop owner, Ollie. Ollie is aware of Anna's feelings, but not looking for a relationship, tries to be her friend. This works, for a time, but their unrequited mutual attraction is always quietly simmering in the background and ... well, you can guess.

Hooked On You is a sweet, slow burning romance as much about friendship and family as it is about love. While the chemistry is great and the sex scenes have a tender honesty about them that made me a bit swoony, it's the little kisses, glances, and touches shared between Anna and Ollie that made my heart grow two sizes. Matthews has written her protagonists as real, ordinary people who care deeply about each other and show it, not in grand gestures, but with small, every day intimacies that in the end mean so much more.

I love that Anna and Ollie are in their 50s with ex-husbands and adult children. I don't see that often in romance and it felt refreshing to see older women with full, established lives falling in love. Anna and Ollie's relationship does not exist in a bubble, but touches the lives of everyone around them, reinforcing existing family bonds and forging new connections with others.

Imho, if you are looking for a tender feel-good romance, give Hooked On You a read.

Hooked on You by Jenn Matthews. Ylva Publishing, 2019. Kindle edition.