cover image As the Crow Flies

As the Crow Flies

Melanie Gillman. Iron Circus, $30 (272p) ISBN 978-1-94582-006-9

Gillman’s brutally honest and wrenchingly beautiful story of friendship explores the simultaneous pain and joy of being young and queer. On Charlie’s first day at a Christian sleepaway camp for girls, she sees what she believes to be a sign from God, but she has a crisis of faith after she discovers she’s the only black girl in attendance and the camp staff start treating her badly. Their cruelty only grows worse during her group’s hike to a centuries-old ceremonial retreat in the mountains. On the way, Charlie meets Sydney, a transgender girl who’s just as fed up with their privileged counselor and oblivious peers, and the two band together for support during the emotionally and physically grueling ordeal. The book is unflinching in its examination of how solidarity among white, cisgender women can harm others. Charlie’s pain is palpable, as are Sydney’s alienation and fear, producing a story that’s as resonant for marginalized readers as it is enlightening for those it critiques. Throughout, Gillman’s meticulously realized colored pencil landscapes remain impeccable. This book radiates love and melancholy in equal measure. (Nov.)