Review by Jasmine Sov, 15
All of Us with Wings By Michelle Ruiz Keil
Xochi, a 17-year-old Mexican-American girl running from the pain of her past, is the live-in governess of Pallas, a smart 12-year-old who lives with her rock star family in post-punk San Francisco. Thanks to the band’s fame, the family often goes to parties after parties, with Xochi and Pallas in tow. At one such concert afterparty, on the night of the Vernal Equinox, Xochi and Pallas accidentally summon two ancient beings who are determined to avenge the many cruelties that Xochi’s had to suffer through, like her mom abandoning her and a man wronging her. But no matter how much Xochi wants to protect her new life and the people in it, the creatures are set on getting payback, no matter what the cost.
All of Us with Wings reads like a modern fairytale thanks to the author’s beautiful prose. The elements of magical realism serve to further elevate the story, making everything sound like a wild fever dream. Unfortunately, Xochi’s romantic subplot is what ruins the book—she’s 17, and her love interest is 28. It’s an adult having sexual relations with a minor, with an age gap of 11 years. It doesn’t help that the love interest is also Pallas’s father and Xochi’s employer and that the book tries to make it seem okay because “she’s mature for her age.” Finally, there was far too much explicit content—drug usage and graphic description of sexual encounters, to name a few—for this book to be categorized as young adult. This book should have been an adult book, with a focus on young characters. While All of Us with Wings is lovely on the surface, it ultimately fails to deliver the uplifting story of healing it promises.
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