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 ...
  • karen
    The naked man body still made me bashful. You get used to seeing naked women all your life, but a man’s floppy cluster looks so exposed and hapless.this is a sweet, breezy reversal of the “gay for you” trope, in which andrea morales, an established lesbian who has sacrificed her college education and severed all contact with her homophobic parents in order to live freely and openly, hooks up with a dude, gets pregnant, and decides, like mad...
  • Esil
    4 high starsStray Friends was a lovely surprise. I had no expectations when I started this book, knowing nothing about the story or the author. The first part of the story takes place in the late 1990s, focusing on Andrea in her early twenties in Portland, Oregon. Andrea (or Andie as she is known by her friends) is gay, and living an insulated life within her tight knit community of friends. At a crisis point in her life, Andie “strays” towar...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Theresa
    Thank you, William Morrow for sending me, "Stray City" by Chelsey Johnson, in exchange for an honest review.I really liked the emotional integrity 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 lit...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Emilie
    I loved this rich, tender, funny, smart book. Marvelous.
  • Kelley
    ARC received from publisherWhen I first read the back of this book, I thought, "Oh no, this is going to be a book filled with stereotypical lesbian and gay characters from Portland in the '90's." I could not have been more wrong. Sure there are LBGTQ characters in a time long before the term LBGTQ existed. However, these characters are real people with real problems who happen to fit in with each other. At it's heart this is a story about family....
  • Lauren
    Chelsey Johnson is a talent. Her words and sentences are colorful, smart, and edgy and you can feel every emotion she conveys. Her characters are flawed but realistic and though the story features queer women, as cisgender, I still found it all incredibly accessible. Stray City is a hopeful story of the family you have and the family you create, love and affection in all its forms, and what it was like to be queer and in Portland in the 1990’s....
  • 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...
  • Nadine
    My first ever Advanced Reader copy, received in exchange for an impartial review, and I'm glad I started with this one - 4 stars for the author, 2 stars for the editor, averaging out to 3.For about the first 150 pages I was delighted with this book, and even though I've only visited Portland, a lot sounded familiar - a small alternative community in Portland in the 90's isn't all that different from my memories of small, alternative communities i...
  • 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 ...
  • Latanya (CraftyScribbles)
    A well-written story of a young woman's journey of finding who she is, while making a life decision threatening to divert her desire to be herself. Pros :1. LGBT representation. The story centers around a young lesbian in her twenties, figuring her place in 90s Portland, OR, where music and free spirits roamed. Along with lesbians, gay men and trans men include themselves in the story.2. If you were an older teen/young adult during the 90s, you ...
  • 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...
  • Jess
    I realize I'm the odd person out here with my 2 star review; however, I was really disappointed in this book. It reads like a diary of an unfortunately annoying person in a very judgmental community. Instead of highlighting the openness of queer community, this paints a very specific picture of one group at a given time.There is no creativity or innovation in this novel. SO much of the book is spent chronicling a heterosexual relationship even th...
  • Shelly
    Excellent book. Is a debut novel but doesn’t read like one.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • Taylor (
    Thank you to Custom House for providing me with a free advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. Full Review on my blog: City takes place in the late 90's and follows Andrea Morales, a young gay woman from Nebraska, who moves to Portland for college. Here she finds her niche in the progressive community that embraces her lifestyle. She forms a new family of her choosing, who support and love and...
  • Carrie
    First of all, any queer narrative that doesn't end in a tragedy is a step in the right direction. But this book has so much more going for it. Some reviewers have accused Andrea of being annoyingly self-centered, but for the bulk of the book she is in her early 20s. Doesn't that go with the territory? She's scared, broke, estranged from her birth family, and still trying to figure shit out. She grows out of that solipsism, as we see when the stor...