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‘Something to Talk About’ Is the Queer, Escapist Rom-Com We Need This Summer
Cover: Piatkus; Background: Mai Vu/Getty Images

You have a crush on your celebrity boss. The tabloids think you’re an item. But does she like you back?

Such is Emma Kaplan’s dilemma. The scrappy, film-school dropout has worked as child star-turned-showrunner Jo Jones’s assistant for just over a year, memorizing her coffee order, office habits and moods. Only after being photographed sharing a jubilant, possibly flirty gaze on the red carpet at the SAG Awards does Emma learn that her boss is a lesbian (though she thought so, based on how well Jo writes queer characters in her scripts). Still, that’s off the record, as Jo has a strict policy of never talking about her love life publicly. It’s an easy rule, considering Jo has no love life to speak of. Neither does Emma.

Through alternating perspectives, we begin to immerse ourselves in Jo and Emma’s increasingly intertwined, yet hugely different, worlds. 

Emma, who calls Jo “Boss” at work, is mostly consumed with her job. Nights and weekends are spent bonding with her older sister, Avery, attending Shabbat services, and thinking about the inescapable tabloid rumors that she and her older, wealthier and extremely powerful boss are dating. She doesn’t want to be seen as someone sleeping her way to the top, but Emma can’t deny her attraction to the star she knows intimately.

Between award shows, running her TV series, writing a script for a new Bond-esque film and keeping up with her best friend Evelyn in New York, Jo manages to semi-reliably attend her nephew’s Little League games. There, she bonds with Avery in the bleachers, a secret both decide to keep from Emma. When Jo becomes involved in Avery’s emerging bakery business, friendship, romance, work and discretion become entangled.

I was thrilled to read a new mainstream queer romance. Seeing two LGBTQ leads not struggling with their identities—one so fully supported by her family that at Hanukkah dinner her parents practically beg to be introduced to her girlfriend—felt great and refreshing. (Still, I'd wished we had gotten to see more of their queer identities outside the relationship. There are no other queer celebrities or friends in the book, for example.) Being gay isn’t always hard, but it’s certainly not easy all the time. I love that escapist novels, like this one, let LGBTQ+ people forget that. We’re just people who fall in love. We need everyone to swoon over same-sex, queer couples. Ship them. Idolize them. Empathize with them and gossip about them. Humanize them.

We need more lighthearted, wholesome queer stories, and Something To Talk About certainly helps fill the gap. No two queer love stories mirror each other, but Emma and Jo’s is a sweet one worth talking about.  

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