Stray City by Chelsey Johnson

Stray City

A warm, funny, and whip-smart debut novel about rebellious youth, inconceivable motherhood, and the complications of belonging—to a city, a culture, and a family—when none of them can quite contain who you really are.All of us were refugees of the nuclear family . . .Twenty-four-year-old artist Andrea Morales escaped her Midwestern Catholic childhood—and the closet—to create a home and life for herself within the thriving but insular lesb...

Details Stray City

TitleStray City
Release DateMar 20th, 2018
PublisherCustom House
GenreFiction, Lgbt, Contemporary

Reviews Stray City

  • Will Byrnes
    I was like a bird who stashed every feather it molted. I’d nested in old selves for too long, afraid I’d need them again. Andrea Morales came to Portland, Oregon, to attend Reed College. Unlike the environment in her Nebraska home town, Portland offered a world in which it was entirely ok to be gay and out. In fact, she soon found herself part of a thriving lesbian sub-culture. But when Mom and Dad, heavily Catholic, learned that she had a g...
  • Elyse
    “MY PEOPLE” “ Portland in the Nineties was a lot like me: Broke, struggling with employment, mostly white, mostly hopeful even though there was no real change in sight. For all the drive-through espresso stands and downtown restoration, the new paint on aged bungalows and vintage glasses on young women, it was still an old industrial river town in a remote corner of the country. Hard to get to. Hard to leave”. Andrea Morales, age 17, was ...
  • Bam
    Andrea Morales was born and raised in rural Nebraska, part of a devout Catholic family. When she comes to the realization as a young teen that she is lesbian, she tries to be the best daughter she can be--never rebellious, good grades in school, attending mass regularly--in the hopes of storing up brownie points for the eventual day when she 'comes out' to her family. Then in the late 1990s, 'Andy' goes off to college in Portland, Oregon and ther...
  • Thomas
    A heartwarming and witty book about a lesbian who has sex with a man, gets pregnant, and decides to keep the baby. Though Stray City pays homage to a distinct setting and community - the lesbian underground scene of 90's Portland - its themes of identity, searching for belonging, and art are universal. The novel contains challenging scenes such as facing rejection from a homophobic biological family, followed by exclusion from a queer family of c...
  • Selena
    I received a free copy of Stray City by Chelsey Johnson from Goodreads for my review.A very well-told nicely written debut novel. The main character, Andrea, who is a lesbian, has a fling with a heterosexual guy named Ryan. Ryan is a rocker. Andrea gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby. The book is entertaining, funny, and very emotional. It will tug on your heart-strings for a long time.
  • Kelly
    A friend got an advance reader copy for me, so I'm sorry y'all have to wait for this to come out! On the surface, it's kind of like a bingo card of things I would love: 1990s lesbian culture, Portland, potlucks, romance, girls rock camp, zines, a main character who archives her own personal history. It's really about family, love, friendship, growing up, and trusting other people. The characters are complicated and so are their relationships.
  • Katie
    In 1999, when this book takes place, I was a 19 year old kid finding queer community/family in Vermont, a place that is often compared to Oregon. I recognized a lot of Andrea's life in my own, though thankfully not the fundie parents, and the need to flee. Andrea's story is believable, and complex. She loves her friends and feels complicated about her desire for a man despite her adamantly lesbian identity. I enjoyed her relationships, her love o...
  • Tracett
    So Good. Johnson's portrait of '90's indie Portland is so spot on, it hurts. Her characters are fully alive on the page, and I can't help but feel they are continuing to live on somewhere past the last page of the book. Stray City is funny, poignant, heartbreaking, and I couldn't love it more.
  • Emilie
    I loved this rich, tender, funny, smart book. Marvelous.
  • Chloe Moffett
    Stray City is a phenomenal book - you will fall in love with Andrea and her chosen family, and adorable Lucia. The writing is absolutely beautiful, this is a profound story about home and family.
  • Rachelle
    I legitimately picked this book up just because it had a cat on it that looked kind of liked my cat and let me tell you, I am incredibly glad I did. It had everything I wanted in a book—punk, lesbians, romance, stray animals, and a look at life in a very artsy town. I didn’t love all of it—I especially did not appreciate the diatribe on bisexuals not being a valid identity, though I do get that’s how a lot of people view that. Overall, th...
  • Kayo
    Set in the 90's, this book is perfect for its time. Learning and growing as a person, characters don't disappoint. Thanks to Goodreads for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free, it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
  • Kim Bakos
    This was the first book in the lesbian/gay fiction genre that I have read, and I was unsure if I would like it for that reason. Thankfully (to me), there was almost nothing in the sexual realm in this book, just relationship stuff, and that is pretty universal to me, regardless of gender or orientation.I loved the relationships in this book - there is the exploration of parent/child relationships, friendships, and both traditional and gay relatio...
  • Diane Holcomb
    What if a lesbian has an affair with a man, gets pregnant, and decides to raise the kid on her own, a decision that makes her no longer welcome in the "lesbian mafia?" And what if that child wants to know who the father is, and connect with him?That's the premise of "Stray City," a story of love between women, a man and a woman, and a mother and daughter; and a love affair with the city of Portland, Oregon. The author divides the book into three ...
  • Theresa
    Thank you, William Morrow for sending me, "Stray City" by Chelsey Johnson, in exchange for an honest review.I really liked the emotional honesty of this novel. I enjoyed Andrea and Ryan's unconventional "relationship". The writing, plot, and the overall tone was witty, refreshing, smart, and an absolute pleasure to read. The only thing that really irked me was that the narrative switches to third person 300 pages in. I felt frustrated and a littl...
  • Andy Lillich
    I've been thinking about this one for a couple of days now. In a way, I missed certain stylistic touches in the writing, but - the genuineness of the story, the authenticity of its characters so out-shown and over-shadowed any quibbles about the plainness of the style that I might have had with it. And maybe the language contributed to the sense of authenticity I felt (?). The sense of Portland in the late 90's seemed very real to me, as did John...
  • Caleb Masters
    Andrea leaves her small town in Nebraska and becomes part of the thriving lesbian underground scene in 90's Portland. But her new life is shaken when, after a nasty break-up with her girlfriend, Andrea has a drunken rebound fling with a man that leaves her pregnant. Johnson's novel is a warm love-letter to the nineties underground as well as a celebration of the joy and acceptance that can be found in community. "Stray City" expertly explores the...
  • Alicia
    2018-01-27 book has been getting SO MUCH buzz, and I was like, well, it can’t live up to the hype, but it seems interesting, let’s give it a look-see, and then I just sat and read it all in one sitting because it really is that GOOD. I feel like describing the plot doesn’t do it justice, so the quick version is: a young lesbian woman in Portland in the late 90s, coming off a bad breakup, gets involved with ...
  • J. Harding
    I really enjoyed this book; quick, witty, fun, serious. The 90s portion was nostalgic; the more recent portion of the book was touching. I'm glad I stumbled across this one.
  • dalex
    Stray City is about a lesbian who has a brief fling with a man and gets pregnant. A somewhat simplistic plot, maybe, but one that fully captured my attention because interwoven with the story are much bigger personal and societal issues. It is about the price queer people often have to pay to be who they were born to be – everything from being ostracized by family to enduring brutal hate crimes. It is about longing to belong and aching to be un...
  • sondrabee
    This is one of those rare debut novels whose story is both incredibly well-told and astonishingly well-written. It has literary weight, but is also a page-flipping fun read. The dialogue is particularly good: precise, sometimes gut-punching, cinematic. And this is not one of those “well-written” books in whose beautiful phrasing you can detect a whiff of self-consciousness--no, Johnson’s super-fluency feels totally natural and never upstage...
  • Jenee Rager
    This is a hard book for me to rate. Honestly I thought the author did a fabulous job of writing. I like her style, and the story moved quickly. Unfortunately for me (and this is entirely a personal choice) I absolutely LOATHED the main character Andrea, so much so that it kept me from enjoying a lot of the book because I wanted bad things to happen to her. Andrea was an artist, a friend, and eventually a mother. She was passionate and strong, and...
  • Chelsea
    I really enjoyed this book, and thought it was written particularly well. Some of the subject matter spoke to me personally and some didn't, but it was definitely enjoyable. I thought Chelsey Johnson did an excellent job of capturing certain emotions. She captured young adulthood really well and finding your independence while parents realize they can't control their children's lives. It is a wonderful story of people finding their place in unexp...
  • Kylie Corley
    Won an ARC in a giveaway.The cover is even just so simple and cute, that you can't help but be curious of what lies beneath. The story immediately drew me in. I wish I had time to have read this in one sitting. It's refreshing to also read a book that you like all of the characters, too. This book had everything that I enjoy, music, romance, and humor. Definitely glad I entered and won this book!
  • Maja Lisa
    Fresh from midwest America, Andrea Morales came to Portland, Oregon, to attend Reed College. Unlike the midwest, Portland offers a world in which one can join the Lesbian Mafia and and be open about it. But when Mom and Pop, heavily religious, learn that she had a girlfriend, parental support for college was taken away and Andrea was urged to return home and take part in a gay conversion program. Yikes.Andrea says no and makes her own family in P...
  • Lindsey
    Oh this is so goddamn good. Stray City invited me into its iconic (sub-)cultural moment with a perfect balance of candor, heart, craft, and humor. A world so vibrant I'm not sure whether I fell into the book or the characters stepped of the page.
  • B.A. Brock
    This was often painful to read. The lesbian crowd was brutal and unforgiving. The blurb is pretty much the book. The takeaway seems to be about the fluidity of family.
  • Laura
    Andrea is a Nebraskan misfit who decided to leave behind her estranged family in the early 1990s in pursuit of finding her true identity in Portland, Oregon. Readers will become tremendously invested in Andrea's tumultuous love life as she faces a sexual orientation identity crisis and much more. This nontraditional, unpredictable novel is a gripping, fun read filled to the brim with nostalgia and a quest for belonging.
  • Barbara
    I found this book sitting on a shelf in a Little Free Library perched on the side of a bike path in Guerneville, CA. Stashing it in my bike basket, I didn't realize, until I pulled it out at home that it was an "advanced reader's edition". Lucky me! This is a captivating story about a young woman who escapes the confines of her repressive, Catholic religious upbringing, and strict parents in Nebraska for the open and free spirit of 90's college l...
  • Nona
    A coming of age story about a mid-west, Catholic, artistic, lesbian young woman, Andrea, who escapes her family to try and find herself. Moving to Portland, Oregon in the 90s, printmaking, music making, and having a circle she depends upon, she experiences a breakup and finds a new friend. Love is present in many types of relationships and Andrea has some decisions to make. I could not put this novel down once I started it and was anxious to see ...