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Book review: First Spring Grass Fire by Rae Spoon

Nazmia Jamal on a debut novel about growing up queer in a Pentecostal family

Nazmia Jamal

Wed, 07 Nov 2012 13:56:58 GMT | Updated 4 years today

One of the students I teach A level English to is itching for me to get on and write this review so that she can borrow my proof copy. What I love most about Rae's debut novel is that it is completely accessible to young teenagers as well as those who will no doubt want to read it because they have followed Rae's prolific musical career over the last decade or so. And what a good thing too - if anyone needs to read this, ultimately deeply hopeful book, it is queer youth and their allies.


Written in a spare, honest and often sneakily humorous hand First Spring Grass Fire tells the story of a young person growing up queer in a strict Pentecostal family in Alberta, Canada. While not all of us have lived through a childhood of being saved in revival tents or survived the family trauma detailed here, many of us have felt the frustration of living in a nothing suburb; the excitement of first love; and either know or need the final assurance that there is always a way out. With eight successful albums under their belt featuring some of the most tender and wise lyrics around Rae's first foray into prose was always going to be something special, and it is. I can't wait to hear what my student thinks of it!



First Spring Grass Fire is published by Arsenal Pulp Press and can be purchased at 


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