Review

All of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil

Publication Date: June 18, 2019

Summary from NetGalley:

All of us with wings

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 the girl’s tight-knit household, which operates on a free-love philosophy and easy warmth despite the band’s growing fame. 

But on the night of the Vernal Equinox, as a concert after party rages in the house below, Xochi and Pallas perform a riot-grrrl ritual in good fun, accidentally summoning a pair of ancient beings bound to avenge the wrongs of Xochi’s past. 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 Xochi’s chosen, nor the one she left behind.

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ARC provided by Soho Teen via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

This is a hard one to review.  There were lots of things to like about this book, but there were also some very disturbing things as well. So let’s break it down into likes and dislikes.  

Likes:

  • The main characters were very well done.  They were all flawed, but at their hearts most of them were good people.  I really liked Pallas and Xochi.  They had very honest voices.  The adults around them for the most part were good too.
  • Peasblossom, he is a cat.  Loved his part in the story and his narration was often a light in some pretty dark times. 
  • The magical creatures, fey?  not ever really sure what they were, but they were amazing.
  • Even though this book is set in the 80/90’s you don’t really feel like it is.  It could take place at anytime.  There are only subtle suggestions of the time period, which was a nice change.
  • The diverse cast of characters, very appropriate for a book set in San Francisco. 
  • Even though Xochi and her mother had a difficult relationship, Xochi is able to have good relationships with other adults.  
  • The writing was amazing, hard to believe this was a debut.  There were many times I had trouble putting the book down. 

Dislikes:

  • It was a hard book to get into.  The first 50 or so pages were confusing.  You are just plopped down into this house of people that you don’t really know yet and are never really introduced to.  It isn’t until you get to know them a bit better that you start to enjoy the book. 
  • The creatures were not in the story as much as they could have been.  Their role and who/what exactly they were was not explained well. 
  • There is a lot of drug use, drinking and inappropriate behavior on the part of the adults in the family.  They often took Xochi to wild parties where she got herself into some pretty bad situations. 
  • The relationship between Xochi and Leviticus, Pallas’s dad.  I am a firm believer in love not having age boundaries, as long as they are both consenting adults, but given Xochi’s past, this tiptoed around predation.  I was also troubled by everyone ending up ok with them together. 
  • I am really struggling with the age appropriateness of this book. It is being promoted as YA, but I can’t see myself recommending it to anyone under 18.  

Even with some of it’s flaws this was still a really good book.  Very raw and difficult at times, but good.  

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