Review: Unstraight by John Thurlow

Unstraight reads like a queer autobiography – I have a few things to note about its authentic main character though.

Quick Info Unstraight

  • Title: Unstraight
  • Author: John Thurlow
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Contemporary
  • Content Warnings: cheating, homophobia, sexism
  • Diversity: none
  • Rating: 2/5 Stars


David Sterling lives the suburban life. He has been married to Carrie for fourteen years and they have two daughters. To the onlooker, life behind the Sterling’s picket fence looks perfect, and in many ways it is—save for the fact that David carries a burdensome secret…one that he has guarded well since he was a teenager.

David’s life is unravelling and he cannot carry the burden any longer. To make peace with himself and his world, it is time to tell the truth, a gamble that may lose him all that is precious. But he needs to be released from the shame, the guilt, and the fear.

In the pain and hurt of the aftermath, this deeply personal journey is driven by David’s desire to hold on to those he loves, while at the same time revealing who he really is to them and the world.

The Queer’s Review

Unstraight reads so much like an autobiography that I managed to forget it’s fiction.

Even though there were quite a few things I find questionable there were also some aspects of John Thurlow’s book I enjoyed, so let’s start with the good, shall we?

First, I was pleasantly surprised that the book tells you in an offhand comment that there’s physical and emotional love – a concept a lot of people outside of the queer community haven’t encountered in my experience. I especially liked how it is not explained or questioned, it simply is.

The way our main character is portrayed is probably why I somehow concluded that Unstraight is not a fictional novel but a retelling of one’s life. I can’t say I liked him but I also didn’t actively hate him – maybe a little while he was cheating his way through his marriage. He did read authentic though. There is a lot of internalized homophobia in him though it seems like and also a fair share of sexism.

And that brings me to the aspects I disliked. The focus on what a man is, how one can know a man is gay.. I’m sorry, but “naturally pink cheeks” (kindle pos. 225) mean someone’s gay now? Since when is a rather pale skin and bloodflow a sign for one’s fucking sexuality?!

Also fun fact: A woman is a man’s “precious cargo” (kindle pos. 1.336). Isn’t that a lovely way to be described? Not only aren’t we our own person, now we’re something to be delivered for a fee.

To me, it’s also very questionable how much of his life our main character puts into the hands of his spiritual life coach. That’s just… don’t do that. And it’s even treated like something that could turn out to be dangerous.

To be honest, the more I read my notes and look at the marked sentences the more I want to lower my rating. So let me finish this review with a note on timing: The story is jumping so much through time, back, and forth, seemingly in a circle, that most of the time I wasn’t sure at what point the current situation took place.

Bookish Thoughts

Not too long into our marriage Carrie became pregnant. I may have been a closeted fag, but I clearly had lead in my pencil.”

kindle pos. 1404


I received a free copy through the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

Similiar Queer Books to Unstraight

There are two books I had to think about while reading John Thurlow’s Unstraight:

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