Author: Aiden Thomas
Rating: 5 Stars
A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas's paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as "groundbreaking."
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 is, hands down, one of the best books I've ever read. I laughed, I cried, I screamed while I was reading it. And I loved every single page. I did not want this book to end, even when it ripped out my heart, stomped on it, and left me for dead.
Yadriel, a boy from a traditional Latinx family, is trans and struggling to sow his family that he is, in fact, a brujo. But, when he summons a ghost that is not his deceased cousin, he has a whole new thing to struggle with.
This book has all the ups and downs of teenage life - the parents and aunts and uncles and cousins who annoy you even though you love them. The friends who get dramatic and testy with you. All the drama, you know. That's like life for many (not all though, come on) teenagers. It also has the added exploration of what it's like for Yadriel to be a queer, trans boy in a traditional Latinx family. Even when they try, it's a struggle for them, especially his dad, to accept Yad for who he really is.
I loved the family dynamic in this book. I loved that they were such a close knit family who really looked after each other, even when they had their struggles. I also think this family dynamic really worked in playing into the characters growth and development throughout this book. Yad's dad, for example, was not as open about Yad being trans as he claimed to be. He'd dead name Yad, and up until the end, he really seemed to have a hard time seeing Yad as his son. I don't want to get to spoiler-y here in case you haven't read the book yet. So let's just say, Yad's dad comes around and it is WONDERFUL!
The character development in this book was on point. Watching Julian grow from this smart mouthed sarcastic, kind of bitter young man, into someone who was still a smart ass but who realized he needed to depend on other people, like his brother was awesome. Watching the changes in Yad and in Yad's dad was great as well. Yad realized that he can be strong even when it feels like the world is beating him down because of who he is. He explored himself, learned what his pronouns are, learned that he can and should demand respect and to be treated decently - he's amazing. And I think Yad's dad was the biggest thing - the way he changed throughout this book was awesome. He went from being this guy who struggled to accept his son, and didn't believe his son could be a brujo, to being a firm believer that Yad really is a brujo and is son. I just could cry.
The events of this book fit together so well, and weaved into each other from one page to the next. Each thing led into this bigger thing, which led into the massive monumental surprise at the end - and let me tell you, getting to that surprise is so worth is because it led to other surprise events that left me screaming and crying and hating a certain character so so much. The whole story was very well written, complete with foreshadowing and lots of tension and buildup throughout the entire book. The story flowed well, and everything that was in this book really worked well together.
My favorite things are definitely:
* The relationship between Yad and Maritza
* The fact that Maritza is so determined to stick to her beliefs but was willing to do what she had to do save Yad.
* Watching Yad save his friend and his brother all while facing a hard truth about someone he loved was so hard and so amazing.
* Maritza's dogs!
Reader friends, if you've read this book, let me know what you think in the comments. I'm dying to hear from you. If you haven't read this book - WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR.
If you feel so inclined, stop by to visit author Aiden Thomas's website to check out their new book coming out in March. It's a Peter Pan retelling called Lost in the Never Woods, and it sounds wonderful.