My Aunt Is a Monster

Random House Graphic. Oct. 2022. 336p. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9780593125465. pap. $13.99. ISBN 9781984894182. .
Gr 4 Up–A gleeful adventure, exceedingly colorful and humming with life, as much about the idea of exploring as about the journey itself. Yee’s central hero is the young, blind, and bookish Safia, sent to live with her distant aunt after a fire at her parents’ bookstore leaves her orphaned. Aunt Whimsy, unbeknownst to sightless Safia, is a world-famous explorer who has gone into hiding due to a condition that’s left her with the appearance of a three-eyed, curly-horned, gray-furred goat-woman. After Safia settles in with a whimsical cast of characters at her aunt’s expansive estate, a rival’s taunt beckons Whimsy out of retirement, and the crew sets out on their next adventure—Safia’s first. Along the way Safia forms a new friendship, suffers betrayals, and finds her own knack for adventure and bravery. While the relationship dynamics woven throughout the story are meaningful, Yee’s real zest and passion is for the imaginative creatures and fanciful locales. Swirling emotions become lightning strikes of neon, flashbacks are displayed as magazine clippings and newspaper articles, and hand-drawn maps, doodled notes, and other paper ephemera abound. The cast is primarily women and nonbinary characters, and Safia and Aunt Whimsy are people of color with Arabic names. The apex of their adventures occurs in a location that seems to be influenced by Hindu and Tibetan legend.
VERDICT A heartfelt, high-energy, richly inked caper with plenty of pauses for legend-building, and a multi-faceted, fun read.

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