Synopses & Reviews
Inspired by the Greek myth of Iphigenia and the Grimm fairy tale "Brother and Sister," Michelle Ruiz Keil's second novel follows two siblings torn apart and struggling to find each other in early '90s Portland.
All her life, seventeen-year-old Iph has protected her sensitive younger brother, Orr. But this summer, with their mother gone at an artist residency, their father decides it's time for fifteen-year-old Orr to toughen up at a wilderness boot camp. When their father brings Iph to a work gala in downtown Portland and breaks the news, Orr has already been sent away against his will. Furious at her father's betrayal, Iph storms off and gets lost in the maze of Old Town. Enter George, a queer Robin Hood who swoops in on a bicycle, bow and arrow at the ready, offering Iph a place to hide out while she tracks down Orr.
Orr, in the meantime, has escaped the camp and fallen in with The Furies, an all-girl punk band, and moves into the coat closet of their ramshackle pink house. In their first summer apart, Iph and Orr must learn to navigate their respective new spaces of music, romance, and sex-work activism — and find each other before a fantastical transformation fractures their family forever.
Told through a lens of magical realism and steeped in myth, Summer in the City of Roses is a dazzling tale about the pain and beauty of growing up.
“Michelle Ruiz Keil’s writing is achingly beautiful, her books deep, thought-provoking, and magical. She doesn’t flinch from the raw pain of teens coping with rough stuff—from abuse and neglect to identity issues and neurodivergence — but transforms them (sometimes literally) through magical realism, into haunting and luscious modern fables that are still grounded and gritty in all the best ways... A mosaic of Greek tragedy, punk rock, Shakespeare, social conscience, folklore, and mysticism, Summer in the City of Roses glitters even as its sharp edges cut and draw blood.” Laini Taylor
“A gorgeous, tender, warm-hearted reworking of mythic material that also feels resolutely set in the world that we live in.” Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble
“Michelle Ruiz Keil has crafted an absolute stunner of a novel full of myths and misfits. Summer in the City of Roses pulses with magic and music and is, at its core, a grand celebration of love in all its tricky and beautiful forms.” Samantha Mabry, author of All the Wind in the World and Tigers, Not Daughters
“Summer in the City of Roses is riveting, singular, poetic, powerful, fierce, soft, heartbreaking, and heart-mending, as tender as velvet and sharp as the bloody antler underneath. Michelle Ruiz Keil is the Erin Morgenstern of YA.” Delilah Dawson, author of the New York Times bestseller Star Wars: PHASMA and coauthor of the Tales of Pell
“This enchanting book — like the real-life magical city where it’s set — will draw you in and transform you into a more alive and creative version of yourself. A captivating work of magical realism that will delight both YA and adult readers. Michelle Ruiz Keil writes like a dream.” Ariel Gore, author of We Were Witches
About the Author
Michelle Ruiz Keil is a Latinx writer and tarot reader with an eye for the enchanted and a way with animals. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, All of Us With Wings, was called “a transcendent journey” by The New York Times. A San Francisco Bay Area native, Michelle has lived in Portland, Oregon, for many years. She curates the fairytale reading series All Kinds of Fur and lives with her family in a cottage where the forest meets the city.