cover image Summer in the City of Roses

Summer in the City of Roses

Michelle Ruiz Keil. Soho Teen, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-64129-171-2

Though no wicked stepmothers or Greek gods inhabit the world of this surreal, magical realist tale set in 1990s Portland, Ore., Keil (All of Us with Wings) steeps the narrative in fairy tale and myth. Following Greek and Mexican American siblings Iphigenia “Iph” Santos Velos, 17, and Orestes “Orr” Santos Velos, 15, the novel opens in the wake of their father’s decision to send sensitive Orr to Meadowbrook Rehabilitation Center for Boys—without notifying either sibling in advance. While Orr escapes, fleeing the toxic masculinity of “boot camp,” and finds refuge with all-girl punk band the Furies, aspiring actor Iph runs away from home to reunite with her brother, en route receiving assistance from a queer Robin Hood figure. With ample ’90s references and an empathic, feminist bent, Keil brings a past incarnation of Portland to life in vivid detail. Though several of the novel’s narrative threads take unusual turns that may frustrate some readers, Keil’s lush language (“Honey to tongue, throat to heart, and she is shrinking like Alice”) and endearing cast of free spirits enchant the whole way through. A nostalgic, heady read perfect for a summer day. Ages 14–up. Agent: Hannah Fergesen, KT Literary. (July)