Sorry, Bro

Read Sorry, Bro by Taleen Voskuni

When Nar’s non-Armenian boyfriend gets down on one knee and proposes to her in front of a room full of drunk San Francisco tech boys, she realizes it’s time to find someone who shares her idea of romance.
Enter her mother: armed with plenty of mom-guilt and a spreadsheet of Facebook-stalked Armenian men, she convinces Nar to attend Explore Armenia, a month-long series of events in the city. But it’s not the mom-approved playboy doctor or wealthy engineer who catches her eye—it’s Erebuni, a woman as equally immersed in the witchy arts as she is in preserving Armenian identity. Suddenly, with Erebuni as her wingwoman, the events feel like far less of a chore, and much more of an adventure. Who knew cooking up kuftes together could be so . . . sexy?
Erebuni helps Nar see the beauty of their shared culture and makes her feel understood in a way she never has before. But there’s one teeny problem: Nar’s not exactly out as bisexual. The clock is ticking on Nar’s double life—the closing event banquet is coming up, and her entire extended family will be there, along with Erebuni. Her worlds will inevitably collide, but Nar is determined to be brave, determined to claim her happiness: proudly Armenian, proudly bisexual, and proudly herself for the first time in her life.

Bisexual romance!!

Bisexual romance is special. There’s your good old straight romance, also known as romance with no adjective in front of it. There’s your gay and lesbian romance, sometimes including a painful coming out, with recent examples including Rana Joon and the One and Only Now and The lesbiana’s guide to Catholic school. But bisexual romance? How do you make a character bisexual in the first place if they’re only going to have one romance, huh?

Easy − remind us that they’re bisexual. Remind us that they’re looking to date and don’t really care about the identity of who they’re dating. Make them break up with someone and make up with someone of another gender. Tell us. It’s fine, you know − showing bisexuality can be hard. Telling us « hey by the way, I’m dating you but I also like guys! » is great. And very well done in this novel, too − although there are painful outing and coming out stories because, well, it’s 2024 and queer novels still don’t allow their characters to just be happy.

And speaking of painful coming out stories: this one is based on identity. Like in the two books I quoted above, our narrator, Nar, is a second-generation American. Her Armenian identity is incredibly important in the novel: after breaking up with her very very white boyfriend, Nar allows her mother and auntie to rope her into Armenian-Armenian dating life and commits to trying to find the perfect boyfriend (or girlfriend, she adds silently) at one of the cultural events. Except, of course, 90% of the cultural events are about the genocide, which doesn’t make for great date material.

Nar’s first thought of « I’m so tired of everything being about the genocide » gets revisited several times throughout the novel, with our girl getting closer to her own culture and understanding that history doesn’t have to only be about grief. I love the way she reconciles with her heritage and starts feeling like a real part of « the community», and every single one of the sometimes complicated and painful steps that lead to that.

Also, the book is actually really good − I’m not just impressed with the theme, the romance was really nice and the characters were lovable or hateable or, in some cases, very much both.

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