Summer in the City of Roses

Soho Teen. Jul. 2021. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781641291712.
Gr 9 Up–When Iph, a 17-year-old of Greek and Mexican descent, learns of her father’s plans to send her brother away, she sets out to rescue him. But a chance meeting with the generous, nonbinary George opens her mind and heart as they wander Portland. As a kind, questioning, neurodivergent teen with anxiety, Orr was never the son his father wanted. On his own for the first time, he is picked up by a punk-rock band named The Furies. By expanding their horizons and navigating newfound relationships with a diverse cast, the siblings transform. In alternating perspectives, this contemporary reimagining diverges from its inspirations: the myth of Iphigenia and Orestes and the Brothers Grimm’s “Brother and Sister.” The families in both stories suffer because of magical forces, patriarchal views, human shortcomings, and inequitable justice systems, but in Keil’s telling, it is by upholding people’s identity, dignity, and bonds, and not breaking them, that tragedy is averted. Educators especially will adore this immersive work not only as a comparative text but for its theater and pop culture references and its empathetic treatment of marginalized people.
VERDICT An insightful reimagining of myth that champions an array of social causes. An absolute must-read for teens and educators who love advocacy, myths, or folktales.

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