Blanca & Roja

384p. Feiwel & Friends. Oct. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250162717.
OrangeReviewStarGr 8 Up—Magical realism extraordinaire McLemore crafts a queer, Latinx mash-up of "Snow White," "Wild Swans," and Swan Lake told from four perspectives. Blanca and Roja del Cisne are sisters, destined to be ripped apart by a curse that will turn one of them into a swan. Enter a blue-eyed boy named Yearling, who can turn into a bear, along with his best friend Page, who is sometimes a boy, sometimes a girl, sometimes in-between. Real-world problems of small-town life, family betrayal, and developing crushes among the quartet are entangled with the very eminent danger of the curse of the swans. Reflective dialogue among and in the minds of each character results in meandering action. The expansive, magical tone of McLemore's writing leaves readers invested not just in the multidimensional characters' stories, but in their own unfolding paths and questions about identity. Colorism within the Latinx community and nonbinary gender representation are adeptly explored in McLemore's prose with nuance. The most magical element of this fairy tale is the focus on very real identities and how they intersect. The chapter endings of the four alternating perspectives sometimes abruptly tug readers from one thread to another. Any fan of McLemore's body of work, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, or Malinda Lo's fantasy will revel in this novel.
VERDICT A magical and lovely first purchase for all YA shelves.

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