Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Malinda Lo

fiction historical lgbtqia+ romance young adult
challenging emotional reflective slow-paced

400 pages | first published 2021

Acclaimed author of Ash, Malinda Lo, returns with her most personal and ambitious novel yet, a gripping story of love and duty set in San Francisco's Chinatown during the Red Scare.

“Do you hear me? Everyone knows you're a good Chinese girl. This is just a mistake."

For Lily Hu, "good Chinese girl" feels like a mask she's only recently discovered she's been wearing. Or worse, like a trap—one that finally sprung the night she walked through the door into the Telegraph Club with Kathleen Miller. She's known Kath since they were first in math together in junior high. Now they're the last two senior girls in advanced math, and Lily can't deny that what she feels with Kath is about much more than calculus.

For most people, the Telegraph Club is only another dingy lesbian nightclub just beyond the border of Chinatown, but for Lily and Kath it might as well be another planet.

Balancing her family's need to present an ideal American facade with her unmistakeable desire for Kath would never be easy, but with deportation suddenly looming over her her Chinese-born father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily's awakening to her true self seems doomed to be short-lived.

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emotional 93%
hopeful 56%
reflective 47%
challenging 36%
informative 34%
sad 34%
tense 32%
inspiring 25%
adventurous 8%
dark 4%
lighthearted 2%
funny 1%
mysterious 1%
relaxing 1%


medium 67%
slow 26%
fast 6%

Plot- or character-driven?

Character: 67% | A mix: 30% | Plot: 2%

Strong character development?

Yes: 88% | It's complicated: 9% | N/A: 2%

Loveable characters?

Yes: 87% | It's complicated: 8% | No: 2% | N/A: 1%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 98% | It's complicated: 1%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

No: 40% | Yes: 35% | It's complicated: 18% | N/A: 5%

Average rating