Don't Tell Mama

Fiction - LGBTQ
596 Pages
Reviewed on 03/27/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Don’t Tell Mama is a work of fiction in the LGBTQ+, cross-cultural and interpersonal drama sub-genres, and was penned by author Nikolay Yordanov. Written for adults due to the book’s explicit content in language, sexual situations and some scenes of violence, this thought-provoking read explores the lives of seven different individuals from the perspective of one omnipotent being who observes them all. Their fragmented stories come together to form a central narrative about love, life and some dark secrets of being. Featuring characters from Bulgaria, Iraq, Iran, Spain, North Korea, the USA and Uganda, this highly engaging drama looks at the difficulties of life and a common secret that these unknown neighbors share.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish, not least for its finesse in presenting fully rounded characters who feel real from the moment you meet them. The novel may be long, but author Nikolay Yordanov structures the interweaving narratives in such a way that it produces a fast-paced read through different slices of life, shifting and presenting new and interesting focal points at every turn of the page. I particularly enjoyed the emotional journey of Nae-il in North Korea, which presented a truly eye-opening exploration of grief, but also life under dictatorship. There is certainly something for everyone in this ultra diverse cast with a powerful emotive quality to the struggles of each member of the ensemble. Overall, I would highly recommend Don’t Tell Mama to readers who favor diverse and accomplished interpersonal drama.

Rabia Tanveer

Don't Tell Mama by Nikolay Yordanov is the story of several people as they come to terms with their sexuality while trying to live as best they can. This is the story of love, fright, and acceptance as the characters navigate their place in the world where they can be themselves. Luke, Miembre, Nae-il, Tamika, Iman, Alexander, Hakim, and Matias are all from different parts of the world, yet all of them have something in common. They all love and feel something for people they really shouldn’t. Society will not let them love who they want, but the heart wants what it wants, regardless of its repercussions. Some of them try to hold their feelings back, some try to make sense of it while some have accepted that love is not in the cards for them. Who deserves to live like this? Don’t they all have the right to love whoever they want?

Don't Tell Mama by Nikolay Yordanov is told from the perspective of an entity observing all these characters from afar and telling their story. It is watching over them, feeling their pain and confusion. While people are now more open to love, there are still countries around the world not accepting of LGBTQ. Each character had a story to tell and each story was a little hard to read. There are many unnamed emotions, feelings, and desperation that you cannot help but feel. Author Nikolay Yordanov made me feel everything that his characters were going through. I felt Iman’s pain, Luke’s confusion, and how desperate Alexander was to live his life on his own terms but failing to do so. This is a beautiful yet emotional story, one that will open your eyes and make you realize love is beautiful in its essence. This is a powerful and incredibly well-written narrative that needs to be read by everyone.

Maria Victoria Beltran

Don't Tell Mama by Nikolay Yordanov is an LGBTQ novel that spans the globe. The story opens with Ugandan Luke, who takes a stand against a local misogynistic priest. From Bulgaria is the cynical Alexander who is made to face the consequences of his promiscuous life. Hakim, from Iraq, after seeing his cousin exiled from home because of his sexual preference, suppresses his feelings for a neighbor. The Iranian Imam, on the other hand, undergoes a sex change operation against his will and his life is never the same again. Tamika, a singer based in the US, is on the brink of stardom. From Spain, the bellboy Matias has to choose between life or love. And finally, there's the school girl Name-il, the lone survivor of her family's flight from the repressive North Korean government.

Nikolay Yordanov's Don't Tell Mama is a psychologically stimulating novel about the plight of various personalities from the LGBTQ community. It tells the stories of unrelated characters from Uganda, Bulgaria, Iraq, Iran, the USA, Spain, and North Korea. They all have one thing in common and that is having sexual preferences that are outside the norms of conventional society. Introspective and mesmerizing, Nikolay Yordanov's writing style is original. The characters come alive in the novel's chapters and all of their stories are intriguing. Don't Tell Mama ends in a most unusual way as an unnamed presence, seemingly from a different world, unites all the tales of love, violence, and secrets into one cohesive literary masterpiece.