Finally getting back into the swing of things and catching up on some book reviews for the year. This one was particularly enchanting . . .
About the Book
Title: Each of Us a Desert
Author: Mark Oshiro
Dates Read: January 17 – February 3, 2021
Edition Read: Hardcover
Blurb: Xochital is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enigmatic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.
Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.
One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous mayor. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.
This book is so hard to describe. It was so beautiful and magical that it was hard not to be completely enveloped by it.
Slight disclaimer: I was already a bit fan of Mark Oshiro, not just from his other novel (Anger is a Gift, review here), but also from his website Mark Reads. There, Mark reviews books one chapter at a time (which is really hard to do, as I have found), and his insights and reactions are funny, heartwarming, and an absolute treat. It’s so fun to read a book along with Mark, which is why I’ve gone back and am reading through all of his posts (including Fellowship of the Ring, right now). So I was already predisposed to fangirl over just about anything he does. That said . . .
I loved everything about this book. It’s so different from any other YA book I’ve read. The setting and the story world are familiar yet foreign, beautiful yet treacherous. I also really loved the mythology that flows through every bit of this story. It’s a story about stories, particularly the ones that Xo has to take from her fellow townspeople and give back to their god, Solis. I don’t know if this is based on a real-world history or mythology, but I absolutely loved it. Through this, we learn so many things about everyone in her town and throughout the world itself.
I also loved that this was a story not just about faith but about challenging that faith. When Xo leaves her small town, she has to start questioning everything she used to take as solid truths. As her town’s cuentista (Spanish for “storyteller”), she felt a certain responsibility to the people and through the story she starts to learn more about her place in the world as more than that, to question the very foundation of her life and her place in the world.
And then there is her relationship with Emilia which was just beautiful. The blurb says that Emilia is the daughter of the town’s mayor, but that’s not really accurate. Her father and his posse sort of invaded the town and took over. At first Emilia is using Xo to escape her life with her father and find out the truth of where she came from, but as her and Xo learn to trust each other and rely on each other, their relationship blossoms.
If you have read Mark’s first book, Anger is a Gift, I will warn you that this book is completely different, so much so that if I didn’t know better, I would think they were written by two different people. Both are excellent in different ways and I highly recommend them both.
GoodReads rating: 5 stars
Categories: Books I've Read