LGBTQ+ Family Dynamics, an Absent Mother, and a Vulnerable Medical Memoir – Three to Read

Discover three new release novels featuring fiercely determined female characters who boldly explore the dynamics of atypical family structures, despite societal expectations. Welcome back to Three to Read!

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Welcome back to another Three to Read! In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, we’ve found three inspiring new releases in women’s fiction to spotlight this week. Find out if an atypical family can find reconciliation and how one writer came to terms with her diagnosis with these intensely vulnerable and dynamic picks. Keep reading to learn more about these novels by Torrey Peters, Zoe Whittall, and N. West Moss.

Hot Pick

Detransition, Baby

by Torrey Peters


Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn’t hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.

Ames isn’t happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese—and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. When Ames’s boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she’s pregnant with his baby—and that she’s not sure whether she wants to keep it—Ames wonders if this is the chance he’s been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family—and raise the baby together?

This provocative debut is about what happens at the emotional, messy, vulnerable corners of womanhood that platitudes and good intentions can’t reach. Torrey Peters brilliantly and fearlessly navigates the most dangerous taboos around gender, sex, and relationships, gifting us a thrillingly original, witty, and deeply moving novel.


This national bestseller has generated quite a buzz as debut author Torrey Peters dives head-first into the most complicated and controversial nuances of the current discussion around gender and sexuality. With a diverse cast of characters and an in-depth discussion of traditionally underrepresented conflicts, this novel sets itself apart by boldly addressing controversial subjects in a sensitive and nuanced way.

Coffee Shop

The Spectacular

by Zoe Whittall


It’s 1997 and Missy is a cellist in an indie rock band on tour across America. At twenty-two years old, she gets on stage every night and plays the song about her absent mother that made the band famous. As the only girl in the band, she’s determined to party just as hard as everyone else, loving and leaving a guy in every town. But then she meets a tomboy drummer who is hard to forget, and a forgotten flap of cocaine strands her at the border.

Forty-something Carola is just surfacing from a sex scandal at the yoga center where she has been living when she sees her daughter, Missy, for the first time in ten years—on the cover of a music magazine.

Ruth is eighty-three and planning her return to the Turkish seaside village where she spent her childhood. But when her granddaughter, Missy, winds up crashing at her house, she decides it’s time that the strong and stubborn women in her family find a way to understand one another again.

In this sharply observed novel, Zoe Whittall captures three very different women who each struggle to build an authentic life. Definitions of family, romance, gender, and love will radically change as they seek out lives that are nothing less than spectacular.


This compelling fiction novel explores a diversity of maternal relationships. Whittall does not shy away from the messy nature of mother and daughter relationships, and she leans into those conflicts and joys as the plot unfolds. Whittall skillfully crafts the tension as three female characters each strive towards their personal idea of emotional freedom. Be sure to add this title to your TBR, especially if you’ve enjoyed Whittall’s other acclaimed novel The Best Kind of People.

Dark Horse

Flesh & Blood: Reflections on Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life: A Memoir

by N. West Moss


Honest, warm, and witty, this memoir reads like a chat with a dear friend sharing her insight and her vulnerabilities and taking us along as she heals. Complete with family stories over cocktails and a new friend named Claude, who happens to be a praying mantis.

“I drive and say to myself, if I am dying, if this is how I die, then this is how I die.” When N. West Moss finds herself bleeding uncontrollably in the middle of a writing class, she drives herself to the hospital. Doctors are baffled, but eventually a diagnosis—hemangioma—is determined and a hysterectomy is scheduled. We follow Moss through her surgery, complications, and recovery as her thoughts turn to her previous struggles with infertility, to grief and healing, to what it means to leave a legacy.

Moss’s wise, droll voice and limitless curiosity lift this beautiful memoir beyond any narrow focus. Among her interests: yellow fever, good cocktails, the history of New Orleans, and, always, the natural world, including the praying mantis in her sunroom whom she names Claude. And we learn about the inspiring women in Moss’s family—her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother—as she sorts out her feeling that this line will end with her. But Moss discovers that there are other ways besides having children to make a mark, and that grief is not a stopping place but a companion that travels along with us through everything, even happiness.


This medical memoir will appeal to readers of Ashley C. Ford’s New York Times Best Selling memoir Somebody’s Daughter. Moss beautifully describes the heartbreak of illness and her path back to finding peace and joy. This memoir invites the reader into Moss’s life as she establishes meaning in the small details of her routine and as she finds peace outside of the traditional family structure.

Thanks for joining us for another Three to Read! Be sure to share your favorites with us. You can catch up on last week’s picks here.