I started writing this review before I even finished When Katie Met Cassidy, that’s how many feelings I had. I was very excited to read it, as it has recently garnered a lot of attention and praise.
Very early on, I thought to myself, this feels like a book written for straight people. The narrative gaze looks at these two women and their relationship. It never feels inclusive, it feels introductory– like, here! Meet a lesbian! She wears pants. Can you believe it?
Cassidy is an amalgamation of stereotypes. She’s butch. She’s a womanizer. She’s a career-driven New York lawyer. She drinks too much, works out too hard, sleeps with too many women. And she’s emotionally stunted, unable or unwilling to forge relationships with people. It’s a paper thin characterization that never really gets off the ground.
Katie is almost offensively straight. Her inner voice is so black and white– male/female, straight/gay, butch/femme, and above all, good/bad. I would assume a woman who suddenly developed feelings for another woman would have a lot of conflict. But here’s Katie the 84% mark– well into her relationship with Cassidy.
“Could she honestly be offended by anyone assuming she was straight? Did she really want to read as gay?” [Loc 2195]
Well, now I’m offended. I’m offended that Katie never once considers bisexuality. The word is literally not in this book. I’m offended that Katie routinely and aggressively diminishes and dismisses gay people while at the same time singling Cassidy out as this one exception she happens to fall in love with. It’s shitty to all the rest of the lesbians and bisexuals and women who love women out there.
With all the press and attention garnered, it feels like this book is being rewarded for being a lesbian book in a straight world, for being literary fiction and not genre. All of this completely ignoring the fact that there is a whole galaxy of queer and lesbian press out there publishing wlw romance novels and romantic fiction. 2 stars.