Title: All of Us with Wings
By: Michelle Ruiz Keil
Published: June 18th, 2019
By: Soho Press
You can buy it HERE: Book Depository
Michelle Ruiz Keil’s YA fantasy debut about love, found family, and healing is an ode to post-punk San Francisco through the eyes of a Mexican-American girl.
Seventeen-year-old Xochi is alone in San Francisco, running from her painful past: the mother who abandoned her, the man who betrayed her. Then one day, she meets Pallas, a precocious twelve-year-old who lives with her rockstar family in one of the city’s storybook Victorians. Xochi accepts a position as Pallas’s live-in governess and quickly finds her place in their household, which is relaxed and happy despite the band’s larger-than-life fame.
But on the night of the Vernal Equinox, as a concert afterparty rages in the house below, Xochi and Pallas accidentally summon a pair of ancient creatures devoted to avenging the wrongs of Xochi’s adolescence. She would do anything to preserve her new life, but with the creatures determined to exact vengeance on those who’ve hurt her, no one is safe—not the family she’s chosen, nor the one she left behind.
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I want to thank Edelweiss+ and Soho Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review
🌪 TW: Drug Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Underage/Adult Relationship & Violence
I was very excited to read this book, it has many factors that I find fascinating, especially when I just knew what it said in the blurb, but it turns out that the book isn’t what I expected and I guess that’s why I ended up surprising, although unfortunately, it wasn’t a pleasant way, I must say. I find that the writing style is very beautiful and without doubt, I would read something more from the author in the future, just the plot contains quite problematic and uncomfortable situations for me, so that’s why my rating is low.
I have so many mixed feelings about this book, and I feel that it has been one of the most difficult to give a rating to.
In All of Us with Wings we follow a 17-year-old Mexican-American girl named Xochi, she has been fleeing from a very hard/dark past that she wants to leave behind and in the process her path intersects with Pallas’, an 11-year-old girl that lives in a Victorian house with her rockstar family and they establish an unique relationship, of understanding and friendship, so Xochi accepts the position of being Pallas governess and soon finds her place in the house. Until one night, during the Vernal Equinox, the girls are playing what seems like a meaningless and innocent game, and end up invoking creatures that will aim to take revenge on those people who have made Xochi suffer during his life and will depend only on her and Pallas stop the situation.
I want to start talking about what I liked and a lot, and that was the writing style, this book is told with a very beautiful and lyrical style, it’s different to what I’m used to and I must say that I love it, that’s why I would love to read more by the author, I think that she has a unique talent to write.
Then I also think that it has VERY well created scenes, especially when there’s magic and magical-realism happening. The way in which it’s explored and described is very beautiful to read and I wanted those scenes to have lasted a little longer. I also adore Mexican-American representation, I always support Latinx writers and Latinx characters as well.
Well, now we’ll talk about what I didn’t like. This book is much impactful and more explicit in content than I thought it would be, and maybe it was my mistake for misinterpreting the idea of the book, but having known the amount of inappropriate scenes that involve a minor with an adult man, maybe I wouldn’t chosen this book to read in the first place. I can’t talk about this “romance“ as such because if someone wants to read the book would be spoilers, but I can tell you that it’s about “romanticize” or “normalize” a situation that’s out of place, not only by the underage involved but by the fact that it’s a power abuse of a man who’s employing the other person, you know?. It’s very complicated and twisty in many ways. What worried me the most and bothered me about this situation, besides the sexual scenes, was the look that everyone else had on what was happening, they literally made jokes about it or said that it was something like “normal” because rockstars, and cause she’s so mature for her age and that shit. I was like “REALLY?!” I couldn’t control my temperament and in general guys, I am very open mind with romance, and age differences don’t scare me, but this was very uncomfortable for me and I didn’t manage to feel that this was the right thing at any time. Maybe it works for you, though, but definitely not for me.
The main characters of this book live in a house where there are continually parties since it’s a rock star family, so, for example, Pallas is involved in a excesses life from a very young age, she sees people get high all the time and I was in shock when just, in the beginning, there’s a scene when Xochi finds Pallas smoking, and she’s only 11 years old, maybe this is something cultural?, but I doubt it. Things like that, though, are thousands in the book, and this is why, among other things, I think the book shouldn’t be cataloged as YA, I think the book feels a lot like an Adult book that follows young characters, you know?
I didn’t feel particularly close to any of the characters, maybe because I was more focused on other things that were happening
It’s very difficult to talk about a book that can be so solid in certain aspects, but so weak in others. This will be the kind of books that you love or hate, I feel there will not be many who share a middle term. It’s difficult for me to recommend it, in fact, I prefer not to do it, but if you feel curious and want to read it remember the trigger warnings, and also that it’s a book for those who maybe like YA, but they want to try something more daring and dark, or for those who enjoy Adult genre and Magical-Realism/Coming of Age stories. Not my cup of tea, but maybe it’s yours