By Jennifer Savran Kelly
A page-turning, character-driven story set in 2003 New York City about a genderqueer book conservator who feels trapped by her gender presentation, her ill-fitting relationship, and her artistic block, as she discovers a decades-old hidden queer love letter and becomes obsessed with tracking down its author.
A queer book conservator finds a mysterious old love letter, setting off a search for the author who wrote it and for a meaningful life beyond the binary in early-2000s New York City.
It's 2003,and artist Dawn Levit is stuck. A bookbinder who works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she spends all day repairing old books but hasn’t created anything of her own in years. What’s more, although she doesn’t have a word for it yet, Dawn is genderqueer, and with a partner who wishes she were a man and a society that wants her to be a woman, she’s struggling to feel safe expressing herself. Dawn spends her free time scouting the city’s street art, hoping to find the inspiration that will break her artistic block—and time is of the essence, because she’s making her major gallery debut in six weeks and doesn’t have anything to show yet.
One day at work, Dawn discovers something hidden under the endpapers of an old book: the torn-off cover of a lesbian pulp novel from the 1950s, with an illustration of a woman looking into a mirror and seeing a man’s face. Even more intriguing is the queer love letter written on the back. Dawn becomes obsessed with tracking down the author of the letter, convinced the mysterious writer can help her find her place in the world. Her fixation only increases when her best friend, Jae, is injured in a hate crime for which Dawn feels responsible. But ultimately for Dawn, the trickiest puzzle to solve is how she truly wants to live her life.
A sharply written, page-turning, and evocative debut, Endpapers is an unforgettable story about the journey toward authenticity and the hard conversations we owe ourselves in pursuit of a world where no one has to hide.