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Last Night at the Telegraph Club tells the story of Lily Hu, a Chinese American girl living in 1950s San Francisco, who begins visiting the Telegraph Club with her classmate Kathleen Miller. America is not a safe place for Chinese Americans during this time, as the Red Scare threatens deportation for Chinese Americans, Lily’s father included. Lily’s life becomes even more complicated as she finds herself falling for Kath and navigating her newfound feelings. America is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, but Lily finds that Kath is worth the risk.
I thought the book was was absolutely incredible. I don’t read historical fiction that much, but this book drew me in with its plot set during 1950s San Francisco. I loved the romance most of all. I was really on the edge of my seat towards the end when Lily and Kath’s relationships began to run into new conflicts. I liked how the author left the ending open for interpretation. I definitely did feel there were some loose ends that didn’t get tied up towards the end. For example, what happened to Shirley’s family situation towards the end? What became of the man who got arrested at Aunt Judy’s job? But overall it was a very groundbreaking and emotional story.
I loved the found family Lily found at the Telegraph Club. Throughout the book, she gets to know the women who visit there, who are just like her, and finds solace in their friendships. To me, it made me happy that Lily found a safe haven where she didn’t feel shame nor disgust at all over who she was. I loved how beautifully Kath and Lily’s relationship developed over the story. Throughout the story, I was rooting for their happy ending. Though Lily’s parents aren’t my favorite characters towards the end, it was nice seeing how the author still provided backstories for them.
Reviewed by Tasnia, Libbie Mill Library