Micro Review: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
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Aiden Thomas’ groundbreaking debut novel, Cemetery Boys, is the first of its kind; Cemetery Boys made history in 2020 as the first novel written by an openly transgender author featuring a transgender protagonist to make the New York Times Bestseller list. The novel follows the journey of Yadriel, who strives to prove that he is a real brujo to his traditional Latinx family. For centuries, Yadriel’s family has been responsible for guiding spirits into the afterlife in honor of their deity, Lady Death. When his cousin Miguel suffers an untimely passing, Yadriel takes his chance to show his family that he is a real brujo. However, while attempting to prove himself, Yadriel accidentally summons the wrong spirit—a fiery boy named Julian who cannot recall how he died. Julian refuses to let Yadriel send him to the afterlife unless they figure out how Julian died, but Yadriel is determined to set Julian free and earn his rightful place as a brujo in his community. Cemetery Boys is an exceptional choice for those looking to see themselves represented in the media; the novel is an excellent resource for LGBTQ+ youth looking for inspiration and reassurance that they are not alone, as Thomas does well to accurately describe the struggles of a gay transgender teen working to find their place amongst a community that challenges their values. In addition, Thomas authentically portrays Latinx culture. They emphasize traditions such as the Day of the Dead—an important holiday that is central to the plot of the story-- and include authentic dialogue that makes the characters feel real and relatable. The characters and the bonds they share add depth to the story, especially the developing relationship between Yadriel and Julian as the plot thickens. Although the book is very description heavy, Thomas’ diction is vivid and romantic, allowing the reader to become completely engulfed in Yadriel’s journey. Intense and heartfelt, Cemetery Boys is an important novel in the YA genre that is worth experiencing.