Last Night at the Telegraph Club
by Malinda Lo

Publisher-Recommended Age: 14 years and up
Library section: Young Adult Fiction (13 years and up)

“Last Night at the Telegraph Club” is a historical fiction novel set in 1950s San Francisco, following the life of seventeen-year-old Lily Hu, a Chinese American girl who discovers her attraction to women. As she struggles with her identity amid societal expectations and the backdrop of the Red Scare, she meets Kath, a white girl, and they begin to explore their feelings for each other. The novel delves into themes of love, identity, and self-acceptance.

P 342 “She tugged the hem of Kath’s blouse out from her skirt and slid her hands beneath it, and finally she felt the warm skin of her back, and the quiver of Kath’s body as she touched her. Kath drew back briefly and reached for the buttons of Lily’s blouse, asking, “Can I?” Lily helped her unbutton it, and then Kath put her hand on the bare skin of Lily’s waist, and Lily closed her eyes. Kath’s hand slid up over her ribs and cupped the curve of her breast, and her thumb trailed electrically over the outline of Lily’s nipple through her bra. And then she pushed her leg between Lily’s thighs, and Lily gasped at how it felt- the pressure and the movement there- and it was exactly what she wanted.

…And she reached for the hem of her skirt and tugged it up to her hips, and she took Kath’s hand and moved it to the cleft of her body. Kath hesitated. “Are you sure?” she whispered. “Please,” Lily said, overcome.

So Kath put her hand between Lily’s legs, and Lily helped her, fumbling with her underwear. It was awkward, but when Kath’s fingers touched her, they both gasped. “Am I in the right place?” Kath asked. “Yes,” Lily whispered. It all felt like the right place. Kath’s fingers rubbed and rubbed, and it was so marvelous, so intoxicating- she’d never even really touched herself like this before- and now she was pinned against the side of the filing cabinet, and it made a dull metallic thud as her hand slapped against it.

“I’m sorry,” she gasped, but she couldn’t really be sorry because it was all happening so quickly, so unexpectedly, and she clutched Kath close to her as the sensations took over, her body shuddering, and she pressed her face into Kath’s neck until it was over.

There was a minute in which she breathed in and out, in and out, and Kath held her gently, her head resting against the filing cabinet. Then Kath kissed her neck and shifted herself over Lily’s thigh and whispered, “Can I- is this all right?”
“Yes,” Lily said, and she leaned into Kath, holding her as she moved, feeling Kath’s wetness slide against her leg.

It was extraordinary, Lily thought. There was nothing like this in the world. How different this was from when Lily was alone in her room. How different, and how much more: an overflowing amount of more. Kath kept rocking against her thigh, her breath ragged against Lily’s cheek…”