Title: A Safe Girl to Love
Author: Casey Plett
Genre: Short Story Collection
Number of Pages: 229
A Safe Girl to Love is an eye-opening short story collection mostly focusing on the lives of transgender women. There’s Zoe, a trans girl whose mother is also transgender, and Minerva, a woman meeting her ex for dinner for the first time since her transition. There are also few stories with cis main characters, including one about a sex worker with a talking cat and another focusing on a sensitive teenage boy in a co-dependent relationship with a self-destructive girl.
These stories are mostly on the sad side, sometimes bittersweet, with rare moments of happiness and fulfillment for the characters. My favorite was probably ‘Not Bleak,’ about a trans woman and her boyfriend (a trans man) who let queer kids crash on their couch when they need somewhere to go. The woman befriends a teenage girl who might have stolen from them and wants to believe in her innocence. This was one of the longest stories and I found it one of the most immersive. The thought of a trans girl and a trans guy dating was also cool and wasn’t something I had seen before.
I will say that some of these stories ran together after a certain point and the endings tended to be pretty abrupt. Some of them stood out more than others, and I got confused about some of the details. But the writing is strong, and the author’s conversational and frank prose help drive home how rich and diverse trans lives really are. None of them feel like they have a stereotypical narrative arc and are they’re a good pick for people (like me) who are trying to get into reading more short story collections and people who want to recognize themselves in the stories or just read about people who have different identities and experiences from their own. Plett is a promising author and someone whose work I want to further explore.