I’ve been a fan of Oshiro’s work since Anger is a Gift landed in my lap. So Each of Us a Desert has been on my TBR since it was announced. This book is introspective, character driven, and is thematically just pure gold. I cannot wait for the world to read it! Keep reading this book review to find out what exactly I loved so much!
Xochital is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enimagic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.
Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.
One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous mayor. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Each of Us a Desert is a story about sacrifice, responsibility, and stories themselves. Xochital is a cuentista, responsible for hearing people’s stories and confessions and giving them back to Solis. Each of Us a Desert explores questions of our responsibility to our community as well as the confines of our own destiny. It’s a story told not only in stories, but the confessions of characters and asking us if their confessions purge themselves of guilt? If their performances of regret or the act of speaking their stories into existence change their behaviors and future.
Confession & Stories
Throughout Each of Us a Desert it feels like Xochital is speaking directly to us, not only because she’s speaking to Solis, but also because of the way the stories she hears are passed onto her. All the stories about what we must do to survive to seek companionship in the loneliness of darkness, in the empty expanse of the desert. Each of Us a Desert is intensely character driven, even though there is plenty of action, because it’s focused on Xochital’s quest to figure out her responsibility to her community and to Solis. Is she in charge of her own destiny? In the book, she figures out the truth behind not only the stories she takes on from others, but also the stories about her own powers.
Living in fear of the space of possibility and annihilation, people are compelled to confess in case their nightmares become real. But it means that Xochital feels all their emotional weight pass through her and it’s a heavy weight to carry alone. Full of fascinating world building, what captivates me about Each of Us a Desert is Xochital’s quest for re-definition. I love the masterful writing and the seamless interweaving of themes and the importance of stories that Oshiro lays on the page.
Not only is queerness normalized in the world, but the main character is also queer (and there’s a sapphic relationship)! Each of Us a Desert resonates deeply with our desires to break free of the cages which hold us. And Xochital struggles to figure out where she begins and where her family and community end. She is constantly trying to fight this captivating thrum of freedom, while also wondering about her own responsibility and identity. Do we let our situations entrap us or can we find the strength to beak away from them?
Each of Us a Desert is thought provoking, while delivering a story of discovery. It examines the ideas of religion, truth, and sacrifice. The writing style is stunning as Oshiro leads us through deserts, up mountains, and into the depths of the earth. Asking us if we are just all solitary deserts spread out among miles. It’s also a book that emphasizes the importance of stories being told, our responsibility as a community to never forget, and the burden of carrying these weights alone. The stories that change us. Without which we become someone who doesn’t understand the weight of regret.