REVIEW: Simply Connected – Alex Washoe

Simply Connected - Alex Washoe

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports

LGBTQ+ Category: Lesbian/Nonbinary

Reviewer: Monique

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About The Book

Once a celebrated child prodigy, Blaise Noether is now a struggling widowed mom trying to keep her head above water while she pursues her Ph.D. Only two things make her really angry: her kid’s math textbooks and jocks. In her mind, all athletes are like the bullies who terrorized her in high school. So when she crosses paths with rising basketball star Christie Dillard, Blaise’s interest is a null set. Christie is everything Blaise fears, fiercely competitive, brashly confident, and totally devoted to her game. That she is also endearingly awkward and irresistibly gorgeous is irrelevant data.

But when Blaise glimpses a paradigm-shifting epiphany in the geometry of Christie’s jump shot, she begins to suspect this jock might be the missing variable that could balance the equation of her life. 

The Review

Blaise is a widow, a single mother, and a grad student struggling to finish a long delayed doctorate in math while working as an accountant. The death of Blaise’s husband the year before still hangs heavily over Blaise and their son, Nash.

And then Blaise meets Christie, a professional basketball star, who is their opposite in all the expected ways.

Blaise’s feelings about sports in general, and athletes in particular, were shaped by incredibly toxic experiences in high school connected with their brother, his girlfriend, and others and then hardened when their husband died after a sports-related accident.

And, of course, Nash has begun to excel in his own sport of choice, much to Blaise’s chagrin.

On top of these personal challenges, Blaise’s doctoral work is not going well and time is running out for them to complete it before they lose their funding.

As Blaise struggles with their research and deals with Nash’s desire to compete in judo, their relationship with Christie grows and they confront their feelings about sports and athletes.

Blaise views themself, their friends, and the world around them through a mathematical lens. Mathematical descriptions and analogies are beautifully utilized to frame the story in general and Blaise’s way of thinking in particular. At times, the mathematical descriptions of Blaise’s feelings were a bit long and involved, but generally, I liked this element and it gave the story a unique feel.

I particularly liked Blaise, but all the characters are nicely developed. Blaise’s son Nash and his best friend Julia really added depth to the story, as did Christie’s basketball friends.

I was looking for a quick, unproblematic, and generally upbeat read and Washoe really delivered with a story that is all that, while at the same time deftly addressing Blaise’s dawning realizations around sexual orientation and gender identity in realistic and well-articulated ways.

Blaise’s individual growth, independent of the romance element of the book, was quite satisfying. It was treated seriously, yet also seamlessly woven into the story, without distracting from the romance element.

Washoe does a great job of combining serious, big questions within the expected romance format without either detracting from the other.

Highly recommended.

The Reviewer

Monique Cuillerier is a lesbian writer of (mostly) near future science fiction. She will read anything, from history books to cereal boxes, but has a preference for Golden Age & cozy mysteries and all sorts of speculative fiction. When she is not writing or reading, she likes to run, knit, garden, and get very angry on Twitter. Her favourite object in the solar system is Saturn’s moon, Enceladus and her favourite tv show is either Babylon 5 or Star Trek: Voyager (her cat Janeway votes for the latter). She is Canadian, born in Toronto and living (for the time being) in Ottawa.

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