By: Jeffrey Sotto
Publisher: Refractions Books
Publication Date: March 8, 2022
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: July 14, 2022
From award-winning author Jeffrey Sotto comes his second novel entitled The Moonballers: A Novel about the Invasion of a LGBTQ2+ Tennis League...by Straight People (GAY GASP!). As the title suggests, Sotto’s book centers around a queer tennis organization in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada and the chaos that ensues when a straight tennis player joins their group.
The President of the league, Stefan, who is gay and proud of it, takes pleasure in his role not only as the leader, but also as the league’s best player. When an attractive new player named Khalid, who happens to be extremely talented and is also straight, joins the organization, Stefan has a hard time welcoming him, instead finding himself acting rather irrational towards him.
Two other members of the league, named Ernest and Bibi, find themselves more welcoming to Khalid and before long, the group, including Stefan, has forged unlikely friendships. They practice together, socialize together, and eventually travel to Germany to compete in The Pride Games. Along the way, the reader witnesses the bond between the teammates strengthen as they fall in and out of love, meet and make new friends and dating partners, learn about each other’s families, experiment with drugs, and even deal with death.
Sotto prefaces his book with the disclaimer that the story is a satirical commentary. While it is that, it is also so much more. The Moonballers is a meaningful story of inclusion, love, and family. There are laugh-out-loud moments interspersed with moments that will leave the reader reaching for the tissues. There are thrilling twists that the reader won’t see coming but will relish for the rest of the story.
Sotto has a gift for creating likeable, well-developed characters, even though this story has more supporting characters than most novels. It can often be easy to under develop characters when there are so many, but Sotto takes great care to avoid this oversight. Throughout the story, readers will feel a connection with the characters and will find themselves cheering for them, even when an undesirable decision is made by one.
Quill says: Sotto’s self-proclaimed satirical commentary The Moonballers truly has it all: humor, love, sex, friendship, scandals, and perhaps most importantly, inclusion. The story can be taken at face value and simply appreciated for its sardonic humor, but it can also teach us valuable lessons about respect for others and every person’s innate emotional need of belongingness.
For more information on The Moonballers: A Novel about The Invasion of a LGBTQ2+ Tennis League...by Straight People (GAY GASP!), please visit the author's website: www.jeffreyasotto.com/
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