Cemetery Boys

Swoon Reads/Feiwel & Friends/. Jun. 2020. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250250469.
Gr 9 Up–Yadriel is a transgender teen boy growing up in East L.A., where for centuries, brujos have been responsible for releasing the spirits of the dead, and brujas have healed the living. When Yadriel’s family can’t accept that he is a boy and not cut out for healing, Yadriel is forbidden from attempting the ritual to become a brujo. Refusing to abandon tradition and helped by his best friend Maritza, Yadriel completes the ritual in secret, but abruptly discovers that his cousin Miguel has just been murdered. When searching for Miguel’s spirit, Yadriel and Maritza instead stumble upon murdered schoolmate Julian Diaz, who demands that Yadriel help find out what happened to him. Thomas is generally successful at weaving various Latinx customs and traditions into this #OwnVoices supernatural romance. Spanish words and phrases are liberally peppered throughout, and their meanings are generally clear from context. The occasionally repetitive writing has minimal cursing; the characters and their struggles are authentic, showcasing their need for acceptance from their loved ones but also their refreshing certainty about who they are and what they stand for.
VERDICT A whodunit with a tender and forbidden love story that will draw readers in as it gradually unfolds to a gratifying conclusion.

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