Each of Us a Desert

Each of Us a Desert
Age Range
Release Date
November 09, 2021
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From award-winning author Mark Oshiro comes a powerful coming-of-age fantasy novel about finding home and falling in love amidst the dangers of a desert where stories come to life

Xochitl is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village's stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enigmatic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.

Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.

One night, Xo's wish is granted―in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town's murderous conqueror. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match... if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

Fresh off of Anger Is a Gift's smashing success, Oshiro branches out into a fantastical direction with their new YA novel, Each of Us a Desert.

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1 review
lovely magical realism read
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EACH OF US A DESERT is an immersive magical realism read. Xochitl is her town's cuentista, someone who takes their stories of their mistakes and misdeeds and speaks them into the desert, where she gives them back to Solis. Without the cuentista, the pesadillas would grow larger and could harm others. Xochitl's town is being attacked by Julio who has taken over their water supply and left a trail of destroyed towns in his wake.

Then, Xochitl takes a story from Manolito with key information about Julio. Instead of letting it go as she is supposed to, she decides to keep it. When nothing bad happens, she begins to question everything she took as fact about cuentistas. As things in town escalate, Xochitl decides to follow a suggestion and heads into the desert. Before long, she is joined by Emilia, Julio's daughter. As they travel together, Xochitl begins to learn more about the world and herself.

What I loved: This is a really lyrically written story with prose that flows so well. Xochitl's story is told throughout with poetic language and descriptions, really pulling the reader into her feelings and thoughts. It becomes easy to really feel Xochitl, her conflicts, and her path to finding herself. The inclusions of the stories that she hears was also really intriguing throughout, bringing other characters into the story more fully.

There are some really thought-provoking themes in this one around duty and humanity. Xochitl's job is one that allows others to take advantage of her. Different people in town wield their ability to commit misdeeds and then relieve themselves of the mental burden in a way that speaks to humanity and variable morality. Xochitl has been given a duty without any choice, and as she begins exploring what choices she might have, she begins to realize unpleasant things about the people around her and the weight of their expectations.

What left me wanting more: The story felt a bit windy at times and very slow in places. While the language was really lovely and the plot was intriguing, it was easy to get lost in some of the details. This will work best for people who enjoy a slow pace.

Final verdict: EACH OF US A DESERT is a lovely magical realism read with thought-provoking themes and compelling characters. Recommend for readers who enjoy poetic prose and a slower pace.
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