Books

You Should Be So Lucky

Cat Sebastian’s latest queer historical romance is a love letter to resilience and the power of bravery. Set in 1960 New York City, the same midcentury journalism milieu of Sebastian’s 2023 novel, We Could Be So Good, You Should Be So Lucky tells the story of shortstop Eddie O’Leary and journalist Mark Bailey, both of whom are in a slump.

For the last year, following the death of his longtime partner, Mark has been on sabbatical from his role as an arts and culture journalist at the Chronicle. But his break is up and his first assignment is writing a highbrow sports feature about Eddie, a struggling player on the new baseball team in town, the New York Robins.

Eddie’s dealing with the worst slump of his career and desperately misses his old team in Kansas City, Missouri, both for the friends he made and the privacy a smaller stage afforded. No professional athlete or public figure really ever has privacy, but a gay baseball player in 1960 has a reason to keep secrets. That being said, Eddie is still surprisingly open and upbeat, the sunshine to Mark’s grumpiness.

One of Sebastian’s hallmarks is excellent character development, and how she uses her characters as a window into a book’s setting. We learn about the New York Robins and the Chronicle through the actions of Mark and Eddie. It’s very enjoyable to spend time in the presence of these likable, relatable characters, but their emotions and experiences will also grab readers by the heartstrings.

Eddie needs to stay at least somewhat closeted to continue playing baseball, and Sebastian does an exceptional job of outlining the difficulties of living and loving as a gay public figure. Mark’s late partner had political aspirations that required the two of them to pretend to be platonic roommates. Mark knows how to keep the personal parts of his life private, even when the pressure of maintaining that discretion is overwhelming. As their relationship evolves, one of the central conflicts is how Mark can balance his feelings for Eddie with his desire to avoid having to hide them.

Like baseball fans throughout history, You Should Be So Lucky roots for victory—even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

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