Read This Book

Read This Book: Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender

Welcome to Read This Book, a weekly newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

June is Pride Month, and I’d like to spend this month focusing on books written by LGBTQ+ writers about the LGBTQ+ experience. Of course, we can’t do that without acknowledging that the LGBTQ+ rights movement was led by trans women of color, and Black citizens are still fighting for their rights today. That’s why this week’s pick is an excellent novel by a Black trans writer whose work I admire a lot: Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender.

Content warning: mental health and suicide discussion, homophobia

In this middle grade novel, Caroline Murphy lives on the U.S. Virgin Islands, and attends school on St. Thomas. She hates school because she’s bullied by the other kids for being different–she was born during a hurricane (which is bad luck), her mother left without any explanation, and she sees a spirit that follows her wherever she goes. Caroline is lonely, but when Kalinda moves from Barbados to St. Thomas, Caroline makes her first real friend. It’s not long before Caroline realizes that her feelings for Kalinda are more than platonic, but same-sex relationships and attractions are frowned upon on their island. Just as Caroline reaches her breaking point, she decides to search for her mother, and heads out in the middle of a hurricane.

This is such a beautifully written story about what it means to be an outsider in your own home, and how one girl finds the strength to keep asking questions, and ultimately figure out how to be comfortable in her own identity. The descriptions of Caroline’s home are beautifully written, and are just as textured and lush as the gorgeous book cover. Although Callender doesn’t shy away from some of the big issues that Caroline’s journey touches upon, such as discussions of mental health and suicide ideation, and incidents of (nonviolent) homophobia, this book doesn’t feel depressing or heavy. Caroline’s journey to discover where her mother went is eye-opening, transformative, a little heartbreaking, but ultimately triumphant because along the way, Caroline discovers her own strength and her best friend is with her every step of the way. I loved the combination of magic and self-discovery in this book, and I hope you’ll pick it up (and continue to support books by queer Black writers this month, and every other month of the year).

Happy reading, and happy Pride!


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