cover image Into the Light

Into the Light

Mark Oshiro. Tor Teen, $19.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-250-81225-4

Via a deliberately plotted, nonlinear timeline, this potent speculative thriller from Oshiro (Each of Us a Desert) builds a harrowing image of a queer adoptee navigating religious trauma while combatting white saviorism. Seventeen-year-old Latinx-cued Manny and his older sister Elena don’t remember a time when they weren’t in foster care, until they are unexpectedly adopted by the white hyper-religious Sullivan family. But for unknown reasons, Manny is immediately sent off to—then subsequently kicked out of—Reconciliation, a religious camp run by a televangelist, and has been hitchhiking through California looking for Elena ever since. He’s soon rescued by the Varelas, a nomadic Mexican family comprising kind former pastors Monica and Ricardo and their charming adoptive son Carlos, who reveal that religious trauma impels their own travels. After learning that a body that might be Elena’s has been found outside Reconciliation, Manny and the Varelas embark toward the compound. Oshiro persuasively cultivates suspense through Manny’s evasive flashbacks to his time back in Reconciliation, interspersed with scenes from the perspective of Eli, another camp participant. While retaining space for authentic representations of faith and spirituality, this breathtaking indictment of corrupted religion’s consequences presents a standout, deeply felt portrait of a teenager’s longing for connection. Ages 13–up. Agent: DongWon Song, Howard Morhaim Literary. (Mar.)