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In the midst of national book bans, Natalie Naudus shows no fear with queer theme

Natalie Naudus, submitted

New Dominion Bookshop in Charlottesville will host a book reading and signing with author and acclaimed audiobook narrator Natalie Naudus on July 20 at 7 p.m.

Naudus will be reading from her debut young adult novel, Gay the Pray Away, which will be released in early June.

In the midst of banned books at school libraries across the nation, Naudus shows no fear in addressing the fictional queer feelings of two young girls growing up in conservative Christian homes.

In the novel, Valerie Danners finds a queer book at the library and smuggles it home, her conservative homeschooling world begins to crack. And when the cutest girl she’s ever met shows up to Bible class, she starts to question everything. Riley is so confident and kind, and she and Valerie bond quickly over existing as multiracial teens in a very white Christian community.

As Valerie explores her feelings for Riley, she begins to see that the world she knows is a carefully crafted narrative. Publicly, the girls are close friends — holding hands in prayer, rooming together at a conference. Privately, they grasp at any chance to continue their forbidden romance — until they are found out. Now Valerie must choose between staying with a family she fears will never accept her or running away with the girl she loves.

A conversation with author Alix E. Harrow will follow. This in-person event will be free to attend and open to the public.

Harrow is the New York Times bestselling and Hugo award-winning author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January, The Once and Future Witches, Starling House and various short fiction.

New Dominion Bookshop is located at 404 E Main St. on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville.

For more information, visit ndbookshop.com.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.