Monsters have been eradicated from the city of Lucille—at least, that’s what everyone is told. But when a creature springs forth from a painting to befriend a trans girl named Jam, the city’s illusions of stability begin to crumble. Akwaeke Emezi has said their young adult book—which was a 2019 National Book Award Finalist—is an allegory for the United States and the way the country turns a blind eye to its problems, specifically, the high rates of murders of Black trans women. “People aren’t really acknowledging what was happening around us,” they told Teen Vogue in 2019. “I wanted to tell a story where a young person is in the middle of that… How do you deal with the problem if no one else will look at it?”

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