How I adored this book! I am not the intended audience for Aiden Thomas’s book but still found myself being swept up in his tale of young people searching for the place they belong and fighting for the respect they deserve. This book has a bit of everything: family, friendship, humor, and romance and I think anyone who reads this would like it. This book is especially important for young trans people who may be struggling to find acceptance among their family and friends. I highly recommend this book.
From Goodreads: Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him. When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free. However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
This book grabbed a hold of my heart from the very start and didn’t let go, even after I finished the last page. In fact, immediately after finishing I sent a text to several friends telling them they needed to read this book. What I liked most about this book was the sense of place that Thomas was able to convey with his writing. I really felt I was a part of Yadriel’s family, preparing for Dia de los Muertos, and being welcomed into the family. The descriptions of the food and the offerings for the ofrendas transported me to their home and I could tell how reverently Thomas treats this part of his heritage. The writing is colorful and vibrant and emotional and swept me up entirely. Even though this is a young adult book, it wasn’t written like one, especially with the relationships and dialogue between Yadriel, Julian, and their friends. They talk like normal teenagers but not in an annoying way and the issues they are dealing with are very timely but universal. Without sounding too preachy, this is the kind of book that is so important to teenagers who may be dealing with the same issues Yadriel and Julian are (minus the ghosts!) I fell in love with Yadriel and Julian and their relationship felt authentic in a way that is hard to capture in a book sometimes. They were both honest and true about who they are and what they wanted and that was refreshing to read. They made me smile so much and I found myself not wanting to leave them when the book was over. I am usually not a fan of unwarranted sequels but I would love to see their story continue. I saw some reviewers say they guessed the mystery and the end of the book and while I did have a fairly good idea of how things would end up, that didn’t ruin the story for me. All in all, it was a great, well-crafted story that I loved.
I really loved this book and look forward to reading more of Thomas’s work. Even though this was written for young adults, I would recommend this to readers of all ages, teens and up, and think there is something here for everyone to enjoy. The themes of familial love, supportive friendships, and wanting to belong are universal but this book made them feel fresh. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to this wonderful read.
Favorite Quote: “You don’t need anyone’s permission to be you, Yads.”
Author: Aiden Thomas
Published: September 1, 2020
Rating: 5 Stars