With clear and nimble prose that resonates like poetry, Manjula Stokes unleashes CELESTE & CHRIS, a glorious wild, feverish novel about characters finding their places and forming families within an often bewildering world. Stokes is a phenomenal writer, and this is a phenomenal book.
— Scott Heim, author of Mysterious Skin and In Awe.
"Both Celeste and Chris are unusual characters, and Celeste especially makes for compelling reading as she comes of age in a difficult situation. The novel could almost be a Lolita from the girl’s perspective. In fact, literature pervades this book as characters read works like Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room."
"As the novel moves from Celeste and Chris’s childhood into their adulthood, it shifts its focus to the allure of alternatives to traditional family structures. Celeste and Chris discover sex, and the novel is graphic in describing their various couplings. Here, sex is depicted as an expression of love as well as an instrument of torture and manipulation....Celeste and Chris’s exchanges with each other and others are candid and ferocious; often, they highlight the complexities of love."
-Foreword Clarion Reviews
CELESTE & CHRIS takes place in California in the 1960s, a turbulent time in American history encompassing the sexual and political liberation by youth forced to grow under religious and social strictures that become intolerable. As outcast children, Celeste and Chris create a bond that they imagine will be unbreakable. Celeste dreams of marrying Chris someday, but Chris struggles with his feelings of queer identity. The story follows their journey as they navigate new love, find adventure, persevere through hurt, and grapple with the definition of family.
The distributor for CELESTE & CHRIS is experiencing printing and shipping delays due to Covid19. Because of reduced warehouse capabilities and paper and ink shortages, it's taking longer than usual to print and distribute the book.
Literary Fiction. Historical Fiction. Counter-culture. Friendship. LGBTQ. Vietnam War draft. Women's Lit. Bookclub Lit.