Each of Us a Desert

Tor Teen. Sept. 2020. 432p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250169211.
Gr 9 Up–In a future where the world is mostly dry desert after La Quema burned everything, Xochitl is counted on in Empalme to pass on the truths confessed to her by the villagers to the god Solís—an essential task that must be done to keep dark truths from manifesting as dangerous pesadillas. Exhausted from the heavy burden of this ritual and beginning to question her role as cuentista, a role she never chose and does not want to spend the rest of her life doing, Xochitl makes the drastic decision to keep a story her friend gave to her—a story that could have dire consequences for Empalme. This act sets off a chain of events that cause Xochitl to abandon her duties as a cuentista and leave Empalme, and which entwines her destiny with that of Emilia, daughter of Julio—a dangerous man who brings death with him everywhere he goes. As Xochitl and Emilia embark on their journeys, their separate searches bring their destinies closer together. Exploring the world outside Empalme, Xochitl begins to question everything she thought she knew about herself, the world, and about Solís.
VERDICT A cross between Lois Lowry’s The Giver and Tehlor Kay Mejia’s We Set the Dark on Fire, this haunting story will stay with readers just like the stories Xochitl has kept.

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