The dark side of rock 'n' roll and what it can do to your family (or families) when they're supposed to have your back.
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Why I love it
Growing up, I was the only Latina in my overwhelmingly white school system in Connecticut. As a teenager, I fell deeply in love with pop-punk and "real" punk music, watching shows at community centers and supporting local ska bands. There's something about the way a strident guitar riff bites into your soul or a drum beat slams against your heart that moved me in a way I've never forgotten. Despite my love for the music and my desire to fit into the scene, I had a sense at the time that I didn't belong because my hair and clothes weren't right, and because I was brown. I hadn't yet learned about Latinx punk groups, or gone to shows in more welcoming spaces.
So it’s no surprise I was drawn to All of Us with Wings, a love letter to the healing power of music and found families. The book follows Xochi, who at just 17 is on her own in San Francisco, running from a dark past. When she befriends Pallas, the daughter of rock stars Leviticus and Io, she becomes her live-in babysitter, joining their eccentric, rock 'n’ roll family. But after a crazy concert, Pallas and Xochi accidentally summon two magical beings hell-bent on avenging the wrongdoers in Xochi's past—from her rapist to her absentee mother—forcing Xochi to confront the past she’d been hoping to escape.
This book is full of dark and whimsical moments (Peasblossom, a fortune-telling cat, is a highlight among them), and I loved that Xochi is a layered, well-rounded character, capable of self-love and self-loathing in equal measure. She's an assault survivor, a reader of Sylvia Plath, and a lover of punk music, and I love that she's so complicated and so confident in her own skin. I won’t lie, this book is intense—it is, after all, a story of sex, hard drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll more suitable for an older YA audience—but if you’re looking for a complex, vividly written story, then this is the book for you.
Seventeen-year-old Xochi is alone in San Francisco, running from her painful past: the mother who abandoned her, the man who betrayed her. Then one day, she meets Pallas, a precocious twelve-year-old who lives with her rockstar family in one of the city’s storybook Victorians. Xochi accepts a position as Pallas’s live-in governess and quickly finds her place in their household, which is relaxed and happy despite the band's larger-than-life fame.
But on the night of the Vernal Equinox, as a concert afterparty rages in the house below, Xochi and Pallas accidentally summon a pair of ancient creatures devoted to avenging the wrongs of Xochi’s adolescence. She would do anything to preserve her new life, but with the creatures determined to exact vengeance on those who’ve hurt her, no one is safe—not the family she’s chosen, nor the one she left behind.