FICTION

Rainbow Rainbow

Catapult Jun. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9781646221011. $26. F
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DEBUT A winner of Rona Jaffe, and Pushcart Prizes honors, Conklin offers a first collection presenting queer, gender-nonconforming, and trans characters in a series of briskly told narratives. Here, fifth grader Coco happily ends up being an ox rather that a matriarch in school reenactment of the Oregon Trail, appalling her parents and bringing forth giggles from classmates. But she’s happy with her role—“What she wanted to be was a boy. Like Devon or Alex, but nice”—and not only does she not die in the play (like so many of the pioneers) but she ends up able to challenge her obnoxious nickname. Elsewhere, a woman who has triumphed with her comic strip about lesbian turtles while anxiously resisting having a child with her lover, Maggie, finally succumbs to the idea. But at the last moment, she quietly sabotages the effort, knowing that she’s wrecking the relationship but realizing that she has been manipulated.
VERDICT Throughout, Conklin is gracefully multi-note as they reveal the complexities of queer relationships, always allowing their characters to be themselves.
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