In this collection of linked, lyrical essays, Julia Koets writes, “When you date in secret, the pressure is different. You’re weightless. You’re stuck in between jumping and landing. You exist in midair. Your bones start to thin.” Growing up in a small town in the South, Julia and her childhood best friend Laura know the church as well as they know each other’s bodies—the California-shaped scar on Julia’s right knee, the tapered thinness of Laura’s fingers, the circumference of each other’s ponytails. When Laura’s family moves away in middle school and Julia gets a crush on the new priest’s daughter at their church, Julia starts to more fully realize the consequences of being anything but straight in the South. After college, when Julia and her best friend Kate wait tables at a rib joint in Julia’s hometown, they are forced to face the price of the secrets they’ve kept—from their families, each other, and themselves. From astronaut Sally Ride’s obituary, to a UFO Welcome Center, to a shark tooth collection, to DC Comic’s Gay Ghost, this memoir-in-essays draws from mythology, religion, popular culture, and personal experience to examine how coming out is not a one-time act. At once heartrending and beautiful, The Rib Joint explores how fear and loss can inhabit our bodies and, contrastingly, how naming our desire allows us to feel the heart beating in our chest.