This book taught me some things I didn’t fully realize I needed to learn.
I’ve always been a full ally for the LGBTQ community. I’ve always viewed love and attraction and identity as something that is wholly up to the individual.
I just never fully understood the complexity behind such matters. I will never know what it’s like to be attracted to the same sex, or what it’s like to not know what gender I feel most comfortable identifying with.
But! This book intensified the empathy and support that’s always been ingrained in me. Through the eyes of Khai, I felt confusion, betrayal, heartbreak, wonder, and delicate passion. He (sometimes, briefly, she, or the Elehuddin word for both), is a strong, tightly woven character who I connected with almost instantly.
What does it feel like to think you’re a boy, but then find out you’re a girl? What does it feel like to want to be both? To feel shame over such confusing thoughts? Again, I’ll never be able to say that I fully understand such pain and emotion – but this book illustrated to me just how intricate and, at times, wonderful such personal journeys and discoveries are.
Why only 4 stars? This tale is a sweeping story set in a gorgeous world fraught with exiled gods and clashing cultures. My favourite part of the book was the beginning – Khai’s slow development in the desert. The lush and languorous pace, the keen intensity of fate and looming destiny.
The middle of the book was also lovely, though some of its strength was lost. The third and final part was fast-paced and intriguing – it just felt a little flat and a little rushed. Not by much, but enough that I was unsure how I felt about the ending.
Overall, this was a stunning read that I am so, so happy I experienced and learned from.