Synopses & Reviews
In a small but turbulent Louisiana town, one boy's grief takes him beyond the bayous of his backyard, to learn that there is no right way to be yourself.
Four starred reviews:
School Library Journal
The Horn Book
Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family.
It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing a secret about Sandy — that he thinks he might be gay. You don't want anyone to think you're gay too, do you?
But when Sandy goes missing, sparking a town-wide search, and King finds his former best friend hiding in a tent in his backyard, he agrees to help Sandy escape from his abusive father, and the two begin an adventure as they build their own private paradise down by the bayou and among the dragonflies. As King's friendship with Sandy is reignited, he's forced to confront questions about himself and the reality of his brother's death.
The Thing About Jellyfish meets The Stars Beneath Our Feet in this story about loss, grief, and finding the courage to discover one's identity, from the author of Hurricane Child.
"[A] powerful tale of grief, intersectional identity, and love." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Callender's vivid descriptions...are magical....Elegiac and hopeful." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] dynamic tale that will resonate with children struggling to reconcile who they are with what they think society wants them to be." Booklist (Starred Review)
"This title solidifies Callender's merit as a powerful middle grade and YA author.... An intense, gripping tale of love, loss, and friendship featuring a black youth grappling with his dreams and his identity." School Library Journal (Starred Review)
About the Author
Kacen Callender's debut novel, Hurricane Child, was the winner of the 2019 Stonewall Book Award and the 2019 Lambda Literary Award, as well as a Kirkus Best Book of 2018. Born and raised in St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, they enjoy playing video games and watching anime and reality TV shows in their free time. Kacen currently lives and writes in Philadelphia.