The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan (2016)

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What it’s about: In 2020, a transgender teen, her mom, and their grieving neighbor Dylan plod through a frozen apocalypse together.

What made me pick it up: I read Fagan’s first book The Panopticon which was equally bleak but also hopeful. I enjoy the way she writes characters and her use of language. The Scottish brogue mixed in is also very entertaining and instructive if you’re like me and Google each unknown word. When I saw the press for this I placed a hold.

My favorite things: Fagan makes Stella’s journey as a trans teen extremely relatable and realistic. You feel the depth of all the characters’ confusing emotions, which is one of my favorite aspects of her writing. You also feel the bleakness of their deepening winter, in a way that’s almost too real.

Who it’s great for: Adults who can handle a large dose of heaviness sprinkled throughout with bits of light. Those who like ambiguity. Anyone who wants to feel like it’s deep January somewhere north of Florida.

Erica’s rating: three-and-a-half-shells

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