Queer Book Review: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

A book has a rainbow cover. The image states, queer book review, oranges are not the only fruit by jeanette winterson.

Queer book review! All reviews touch on genre/pot, tropes (if any), and quality of gay content, and include both spoiler and spoiler-lite versions. Catch up on my last book review of Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley.

Light Spoilers

Genre/Plot

Oranges is a rich autobiographical novel about a child, Jeanette, adopted into an evangelist home as a missionary prodigy. Over the years, Jeanette learns how to reconcile her personal growth with her relationship to her the church and the people in it. (Yes, this includes her romantic and sexual relationships with other women!!) The novel is short, but utterly teeming with literary devices that makes this a book I can happily read again and again. Grab a pen, you might want to annotate your copy for the full experience!

Characters/Relationships

Jeanette never use labels, and nor do the women she becomes involved with, but there are evident mutual feelings. Expectedly, her sexuality presents issues with many (religious) characters in the book, including her mother, and it causes conflict with her lovers, her family, the priest, and other church members.

Gay Content

Most of Jeanette’s lovers seem to struggle with internalized homophobia and the scrutiny from the church. The priest cracks down on the girls a few times and often describe them as “sinners” or “devil children.” However, the internal dialogue of our protagonist rarely focuses on rationalizing her identities, which is incredibly refreshing when it comes to religious LGBTQ characters.

Spoilers Ahead

This is the first intensely literary books I’ve read with an LGBTQ character at the forefront, and I highly recommend it, especially if this is a genre you love. I am in awe that Jeanette rarely directly discusses her sexuality and God’s acceptance/denial of it internally, but rather the book points toward this with other characters and other stories to help explain the internal conflict. Although at the end of the book, Jeanette does not settle with any of her lovers, it is a fitting ending, because the book is first and foremost about an orphan finding her true purpose.

Coming Up Next

My next book review will be for Killing Eve: No Tomorrow by Luke Jennings. Have you read Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit? What did you think? Let me know by commenting below or finding me on Twitter or Curious Cat!

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