A lyrical meditation on growing up queer, brown, and Hindu.

GOD LOVES HAIR

10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Linked, illustrated vignettes, reissued in a 10th anniversary edition with a new cover and foreword by Cherie Dimaline, inspired by Shraya’s childhood spent learning to love her queer, brown, complex self.

This work of creative nonfiction begins with Shraya’s mother’s prayers for two sons. This binary, gender-based bargaining with Hindu gods is a stark contrast to the author’s fluid gender identity: although Shraya now identifies as transgender, she wrote this book before coming out and has kept the pronouns and male identifiers from the original. The book moves between India and Canada, and Shraya’s treatment of India is refreshingly nuanced and affectionate. In Canada, Shraya’s 5-year-old self is spanked for trying on lipstick without permission, but in India, his aunts eagerly wrap him in saris and bangles and praise his prettiness. Several stories capture Shraya’s changing relationship with his Hindu faith, from the disappointment of failing to convince the Hindu sage Sai Baba to take him on as a student to the ecstatic discovery of the half-man half-woman deity Ardhanaraeeshwara (“I am not invisible anymore”). Each vignette beautifully captures the tension Shraya’s younger self felt navigating the intersections of gender, race, and faith. The author’s stunningly honest voice is suffused with tenderness not only for her past self, but also for other young people currently coming to terms with multiple identities in families and societies that may not be accepting of their full selves.

A lyrical meditation on growing up queer, brown, and Hindu. (Short stories. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-55152-813-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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