A review of the LGBTQ novel “When Katie Met Cassidy” — a book about a career-driven lesbian and a career-driven questioning woman — 2.5/5 Stars
I wanted to love When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri. Perri has a unique writing style that I adored from the first paragraph and writes in a way that is both captivating and convincing. While the book is written in third person, the chapters alternate in focusing on either Katie or Cassidy. I fully enjoyed the Cassidy chapters, as Cassidy is a serious business woman and lesbian. She knows what she wants and she isn’t afraid to step forward and take it. She also indulges in sex — like … lots of sex — which happens by frequenting a gay bar called Metropolis. On the bathroom stall, she is listed as one of the “top fucks”. While I do enjoy Cassidy as a character, specifically in the way she speaks and the way she carries herself, she is written as too much of a stereotype, even when we first meet her, as she is described as butch and manly. I was surprised Perri didn’t put her in hiking boots and a flannel button up just to ice the cake that is that stereotype.
Then we have Katie, a recently dumped, straight woman and lawyer. At last we have these two professional business women who both take their jobs seriously: one a lesbian, and one straight. Or, at least, Katie believes herself to be straight. Enter Cassidy, who flirts with Katie, brings her to Metropolis, and tries to seduce her at every turn. And then, about halfway through the book, Cassidy gives up on this adventure and decides that she no longer wants to be with Katie.
Now, I didn’t like Katie that much. Well, I liked her, but I didn’t like the way she was written. I think if she had been better executed, I would have enjoyed her much more as a character. Instead, she was a two dimensional, questioning, straight girl caricature who shuts down any possible idea of being attracted to a woman. This is all fine, as everyone starts in a questioning phase and sometimes it can take one person to make you realize that everything you’ve been thinking about is actually true. In Katie’s place, she is bisexual. But … is she really?
All the time she spends with Cassidy she is comparing her to a man. And I’m not exactly sure why, but this really bothered me. There were a lot of comments Katie made to herself about Cassidy being mannish or “basically a man” in the way that she dressed. These comments didn’t sit well with me and led to me not liking Katie even more as a character. It makes it seem like the only reason Katie was with Cassidy is because she looked “mannish” and I don’t think that’s something we should be putting into the heads of readers. It’s fine for Katie to be attracted to this, but it sends a message that bisexuals are a one-category type of person — that bisexuals only like women who are “butch”. This isn’t true at all. Bisexuals are labeled as bisexuals because they like men and women. Not just men and women who happen to look like men.
While the prose was delightful and fun to read, the characters were dry and stereotypical. It was like Perri took every lesbian stereotype and stuck them all into Cassidy’s personality. And then also took every bisexual stereotype and put all of those into Katie. I’m not saying that some lesbians and some bisexuals aren’t like this, but it doesn’t make for a good story. Furthermore, it only gives those who oppose the LGBTQ community more ammunition to fire at us with when they make claims about how lesbians just want to be men, or gay men just want to be women, or any sort of derogatory mark about our trans/nonbinary siblings. I only read in order to read interesting characters with backstories we haven’t seen and personalities that make me intrigued. This felt like a run-of-the-mill, average, seen-it-before kind of story. But, to be fair, in my last review I did ask for more lesbians, and here we are. So, at least that wish came true. Now, I ask for more diverse characters, in personality and identity. I’ve found that books tend to stick to the sexualities that are the easiest to write, gay, lesbian and bisexual. There isn’t much out there for our nonbinary friends or our transgender friends. No pansexuals or demisexuals. The LGBTQ+ writing community has come a long way with inclusivity, but I still want more.