I loved Summer in the City of Roses for the journey. The regular everyday was magic, and the magic was more magic. I don’t know if such things could happen in the Portland of today, but they surely happened in the Portland of then. Recommended By Doug C., Powells.com
Summer In The City Of Roses is a fairy tale-inspired adventure that offers a refreshing, punk rock take on ’90s Portland. The story hums with subtle magic while also sensitively addressing themes of race, drug use, trauma, and sex work. The writing is effervescent, the misfit characters are complex and relatable, and the city’s eccentricities are portrayed with necessary nuance. Grab this book and your tarot deck, head to Forest Park, and fall into a folkloric, feminist journey through the City of Roses. Recommended By Ariel K., Powells.com
Michelle Ruiz Keil's writing sparkles with magic and imagination. Rich with references to such diverse subjects as Shakespeare, punk music, Greek mythology, and Mexican culture, the adventure she lays out for sister and brother Iph and Orr in Summer in the City of Roses is a smart page-turner written with elegance and depth. Keep your eyes open. In this particular City of Roses, things aren't exactly as they seem — in surprising, wondrous ways. Recommended By Gigi L., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Inspired by the Greek myth of Iphigenia and the Grimm fairytale "Brother and Sister," Michelle Ruiz Keil's second novel follows two siblings torn apart, 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 he brings Iph to a work gala in downtown Portland and breaks the news, Orr has already been sent away. Furious at his betrayal, Iph storms off and gets lost in the maze of Old Town. Enter George, a dandy who swoops in on a bicycle, bow and arrow at the ready, offering Iph a place to hide out while she figures out how to track down Orr. In the meantime, Orr 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. After separate adventures with Shakespeare-quoting street kids, an introduction to sex work activism, and a powerhouse musical debut, Iph and Orr reunite, only to find that a transformation has been set in motion that could fracture their family forever — unless Iph can find a way to stop it.
Summer in the City of Roses is Michelle Ruiz Keil's signature blend of magical realism and the pain and beauty in 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."
"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
"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
About the Author
Michelle Ruiz Keil is a Latinx writer and tarot card reader with an affinity for the enchanted. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, All of Us With Wings, was called a transcendent journey by The New York Times. She is a 2020 Literary Lions honoree and the recipient of a 2020 Hedgebrook residency. 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.