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, Glbt, Queer

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
    Update... $1.99 Kindle download today. It’s fresh - - vibrant - - funny - - insightful - - darn good!!!Creative - takes place in Portland! “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...
  • 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...
  • Liz
    “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 .” This initial sentence of Stray City grabbed me. By the end of the first page I had already highlighted three quotes. So I was all prepared to just love this novel. And I wish I could say the book kept up that level of intensity, but it didn’t. It dragged in places. It takes forever to...
  • 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...
  • TL
    I won a copy via Goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own.:)----This one was a mixed bag throughout for me. I kept going through the cycle of "Pretty good", "Hmm... not sure" "Annoying" "Boring"The atmosphere was good but I never really connected to the main people themselves. I was interested enough to continue but it didn't much rise beyond that.That sounds super vague but I never really know what to say ...
  • Amanda
    4.5 This ended pretty abruptly--I actually flipped back to double check--but it didn't end poorly. I just wanted so much more of the story! Excellent debut novel with wonderful characters!
  • Danika at The Lesbrary
    Whew! This was really good, but also challenging for me, personally. Andrea and Ryan's relationship was painful to experience. It is interesting to read about something that I have definitely seen in real life, but never seen in a book: a lesbian who has sex with a man, but still isn't attracted to men. Andrea is looking for something else from the experience: an ease, an uncomplicated connection. An assurance of being wanted, both sexually and p...
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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....
  • Leanne
    A light - but still satisfyingly meaty - book that burrows deep into its main character, Andrea, a proud member of the "Lesbian Mafia" in late-90s Portland who hooks up with a guy while on the rebound and accidentally gets pregnant. It's such a great depiction of the time period, of complicated relationship and sexual identity. None of the characters are perfect, including Andrea, her posse of friends, or her (kind of?) boyfriend, Ryan, but they'...
  • 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.
  • Lilisa
    An authentic, warm and engaging novel that reveals the ache of finding oneself, a longing to belong and the challenging and sometimes conflicted decisions that need to be made in life. Raised in a Catholic family in Nebraska, Andrea Morales knows she has to move away if she wants to be herself and live her life freely. College is the opportunity and she heads to Portland, Ore., in the 1990s to enroll in Reed College - where student activism, art ...
  • 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....
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Elizabeth
    loved this! andie's arch voice tells this story perfectly including all the details & subcultures existing in PDX during the 90s & aughts. i loved seeing her navigate a bewildering (to her) relationship in such an authentic & understanding way and i was cheering for her the entire time.
  • Emilie
    I loved this rich, tender, funny, smart book. Marvelous.
  • Erin Glover
    I was pulled right in to Andrea Morales's Lesbian Mafia life in Portland, Oregon in the 1990's. Johnson artfully uses the first person to describe Andrea's point of view after "escaping" from Nebraska. So many passages are captivating and funny and surprising. For example:"Meena had intel that the coffee girl was straight--one of those girls who affects android queer chic and looks heartbreakingly good in it but actually only dates men. We resent...
  • Shelly
    Excellent book. Is a debut novel but doesn’t read like one.
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • Jan
    Love this sweet story and its great use of setting and well-drawn cast of characters--especially our young lesbian protagonist as she leaves Nebraska for Portland, Oregon in the late 1990s and grows into herself as a mom a decade later.