Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

Publisher’s Blurb:

Xochitl 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 conqueror. 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.

My Thoughts:

This is one of those books that will be polarizing for readers. The crux of this lies in Oshiro’s description of the setting and the magical elements. Some may call it atmospheric, while others will say vague. This is a huge shift from his last book, Anger is a Gift. I liked it so much that I bugged my librarian to buy it for the school:) While Each of Us a Desert may not attract a huge following, those who stick with it will experience a powerful speculative latinx story. Be prepared for some beautiful poetry and a good smattering of Spanish to build the world and help readers experience the culture.

I can tell you that I enjoyed much of the book. The unique inner conflict that plagues Xochital, the protagonist, for most of the book pushes the story forward… It’s a thematic or spiritual journey that mirrors the physical journey across the sands of the post-apocalyptic setting. It is this trek that will help Xo, her village, and possible the romance.

Ultimately, this is a challenging read. One that some are comparing to The Deep by Rivers Solomon. I see this, but also I want to write a little about the intended audience. I always think about this when I read any YA novel. If and how would I use this in my classroom? I think this would be more appropriate for upper grade (probably 12th), but not for a core novel that all students would read. My classes have a huge range of reading levels considering that the only other senior class taught at my school is AP. I would definitely put this on my Outside Reading Project list, and my description would be close to what I have written here. Challenging, but with latinx and queer rep. I could see many of my students across my classes choosing this novel.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley, Tor Teen, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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