Lucille is a place free from monsters, without prejudice or danger. But when a creature climbs out of her mother’s painting, Jam is faced with the idea that maybe there are still monsters in this world. The only problem is, no one believes in them any more.
It was no small thing to try to restructure a society, to find the pus boiling away under the scabs, to peel back the hardened flesh to let it out.
Akwaeke Emezi’s first young adult novel is a fantastic little moral tale about what happens when we become complacent. Lucille is a wonderful place to live, free from fear. This is seen in the way everyone just accepted when Jam announced she was a girl, that she chooses to sign rather than speak. It’s nice to see a trans character in a book that’s not about the challenges of living as trans, she just is, and she’s got more important things to be doing, like hunting monsters.
You can’t tell a monster by looking at them, so they can hide in plain site. The problem with Lucille is that people have forgotten what monsters did, and how to be aware of the signs. They are also adamant that they are gone. Who is going to believe a couple of kids?
It’s not the same when the monsters are gone. You’re only remembering shadows of them, stories that seem to be limited to the pages or screens you read them from. Flat and dull things. So, yes, people forget. But forgetting is dangerous. Forgetting is how the monsters come back.
There’s a poignant moment when the librarian shows Jam and Redemption some leaflets from the olden days. These are basic information that would be available in any school, doctor’s office or community setting. Things like the signs of abuse and how to seek help. These are now restricted documents, no one wants to cause distress by telling kids about them. But knowledge is power, and not knowing about the bad things, is not knowing how to do something about it.
Her mother, who refused to believe in keeping animals indoors and never let her get so much as a goldfish, had gone and painted a thing with goat legs and ram horns, a thing that could have fallen out of some apocalyptic last pages of an old holy book, a furry, goldfeathered thing that was squatting in the studio like no man’s business.
Note, the UK paperback is not out until November but you can buy the ebook now.
POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 32(b). An author from Africa
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