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Social Queue by Kay Kerr

Title: Social Queue

A purple cover with three pale pink speech bubbles. The first two read Social Queue in dark blue. The author's name, Kay  Kerr, is in red in the third. A girl in red with an orange cat stands on top of the top bubble. Five other people stand in a line atop the author speech bubble. Pink hearts are on each speech bubble.

Author: Kay Kerr

Genre: Contemporary

Publisher: Text Publishing

Published: 28th September 2021

Format: Paperback

Pages: 304

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: I thought I was nobody’s teen crush, but turns out I was just missing the signs.

Zoe Kelly is starting a new phase of her life. High school was a mess of bullying and autistic masking that left her burnt out and shut down. Now, with an internship at an online media company—the first step on the road to her dream writing career—she is ready to reinvent herself. But she didn’t count on returning to her awkward and all-too-recent high-school experiences for her first writing assignment.

When her piece, about her non-existent dating life, goes viral, eighteen-year-old Zoe is overwhelmed and more than a little surprised by the response. But, with a deadline and a list of romantic contenders from the past to reconnect with for her piece on dating, she is hoping one of her old sparks will turn into a new flame.

Social Queue is a funny and heart-warming autistic story about deciphering the confusing signals of attraction and navigating a path to love.

~*~

Zoe Kelly is doing an internship for uni at an online publication, Bubble. She’s determined to do things differently to high school. As much as she can. Zoe is also autistic and is trying to navigate a world that is not quite made for her. A noisy world. A world that expects her to always look, act, and sound certain ways. A world that doesn’t wholly accept her or understand her, and a world where signs are implicit – and these are the signs and signals that Zoe and many like her, can struggle to understand. After writing about her non-existent dating life, Zoe embarks on a series about dating – first dates with people who commented on her article, that Zoe knew from school. But as Zoe navigates this, a sister who is insistent Zoe fits in, an absentee best friend, off on a gap year, and budding romances with Gabe and Jake, can Zoe find out who she is for herself, and work out who she really loves?

This is the first of Kay’s books I have read, despite having her debut, Please Don’t Hug Me on my shelf for ages. This one happened to be on my bedside table first, so I read it over a weekend, and found it insightful and lots of fun. Drawing on Kay’s experience as an autistic person, it does a great job of giving disabled and autistic people a voice, and advocating for their presence in news rooms and as sensitivity readers for non-disabled people writing about disabled people – so that euphemisms and discriminatory language can be highlighted for those who might not know, but at the same time, it also suggests that the people making these errors and using these terms can do their own research – though this is my reading between the lines of course, and interpreting Kay’s wonderful prose through Zoe’s experience.

It’s so great to have an #OwnVoices book like this, as some of the things Zoe experiences might be the same for other disabled people, and the way it manifests might be different too. But they are recognisable experiences, interactions, and ways of being that are in many ways common and interchangeable. They just happen in different ways and at different times for different people. Social Queue also explores societal and behaviours that the majority of people expect and take part in, and the way this can feel isolating for people who might miss the cues or subtle messages that other people send in social situations. In this sense, it can speak to the specific experiences Zoe has with her autism and missing the social cues she’s writing about and negotiating, and a universal experience of missing things that other people think should be obvious to everyone. It is representative of the isolation that many disabled people feel and are feeling even more during these pandemic years, and highlights the importance of flexible workplaces, such as allowing employees to work from home where possible, and creating accessible workplaces as well.

Social Queue advocates for understanding and friendship, and seeing beyond what you assume about people, about learning to understand them and see them as a whole person, not just one part of their identity. It is about seeing that autism is as much a part of someone’s identity as their gender is. Kay Kerr has created a wonderfully touching and accessible story for readers to see themselves in, and it is joyous.

3 thoughts on “Social Queue by Kay Kerr”

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