SHE OF THE MOUNTAINS by Vivek Shraya

SHE OF THE MOUNTAINS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A young man explores his sexuality while the Hindu gods play out their long drama throughout his life.              

Getting it on isn’t easy for the most grounded of young people, let alone a gender-conflicted queer boy growing up in the wilds of Canada at a time when “You’re gay!” was hurled as the most hurtful of insults. Composed by multihyphenate pop star Shraya (God Loves Hair, 2011), this fable is punctuated by Biesinger's lurid illustrations of Hindu deities like Pavarti, Vishnu and Ganesha, who also figure prominently in the narrative. The young man who drives the story is struggling with his body, his mind, his sexuality and his self-esteem. Unfortunately, Shraya is often imprecise. One of the narrator’s friends is dubbed “The Only Other Gay.” Eventually, the young man meets “She,” a girl with whom he almost accidentally starts a relationship. Studded with early 1990s pop-culture references, the novel sets the narrator’s confusion in a time before the rigid bonds of gender identification finally started to yield (somewhat). In the background, the myths of the Hindu gods play out as a kind of chorus, as the humanized deities love and struggle and desire even as the narrator acts out his own confused journey. It’s interesting that he finds the underground world of gay culture nearly as confusing, rigid and arcane as the straight world. Upon telling friends about his relationship with “She,” they promptly recoil. This prompts a realization: “It occurred to him that the gays and the straights had more in common than he had considered before,” Shraya writes. “Just like the straights, the gays were intent on preserving and presenting a uniform, singular version of themselves; in this case, their gayness.” Sure, it’s a messy, experimental work, but props to Shraya for putting himself out there in such a daring way and speaking truth to power to readers all along the sexual spectrum.

An experimental multimedia hymn about delving into one’s self, seeking love without labels.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-55152-560-0
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2014




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