I’ve been reading mostly Young Adult fiction (or fiction that’s YA-appropriate) for my LGBTQ book content, which means the protagonists are mostly in their teens or early 20s. So it was refreshing to pick up Bingo Love by Tee Franklin with illustrations by Jenn St. Onge, a short comic book that chronicles the decades-long, simmering love between two women.
Their romance begins as teens; Mari meets Hazel at church bingo in 1963 and the two form a fast friendship that blossoms into romance. But it being the 60s, their church-going families don’t approve, and once they’re found out they’re forbidden to see each other. Both are heartbroken, but go on to build their own lives, marrying and having children then welcoming grandchildren with their husbands.
Decades later, the two happen to be reunited, again at church bingo. This time, they are determined not to be forced apart; but now, as senior adults, they have to find a way to build a life together that includes their adult children and grandchildren – an emotionally fraught journey.
I adored the rich and colourful illustrations in this book, and found them a wonderful complement to the story. I only wish the story itself had been longer and more complex. I feel like Mari and Hazel fell in love very quickly, without a lot of support from the story as to why they formed such a close bond so fast. I would have preferred to see more of that development on the page rather than just be told, as a reader, that they love each other deeply.
Which is partly why I was gratified to learn that Hazel and Mari’s story will continue with new volumes on the way. I hope that the author continues to explore the challenges as well as the joys that accompany the journey of coming out later in life, and perhaps in flashback we’ll get more of Hazel and Mari’s falling-in-love story. Meanwhile, I’d definitely recommend Bingo Love to any reader, young or old.