I love this book. For just so many reasons. I love the story. I love the characters. But more importantly, I love how much I learned from simply reading this book. Cemetery Boys is the perfect example of why I love reading and why I devour book after book. Yes, you are being entertained by the stories you’re reading. But books also provide a window into cultures, people, and lived experiences that are different from your own. They enrich your understanding of the world and allow you to see things through a lens and/or viewpoint that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
Case in point, Cemetery Boys is the story of Yadriel and his quest to prove to his family that he is a real brujo. And if you have no idea what a brujo is, don’t worry. I was right there with you when I first picked up this book. In fact, I read one chapter, and then paused to do a Google search so I would understand what this book was about. According to Wikipedia, a brujo or bruja is someone who practices witchcraft in Latin America. It’s a lot more detailed than that of course, but that is the one sentence summary. So already, I was learning things I never would have had I not read this book.
Yadriel is Latino, but he is also queer and trans. His family has not fully accepted his gender, which is why he feels the need to prove his abilities as a brujo. When he tries to summon the ghost of his murdered cousin, he accidentally summons the ghost of one of his classmates instead. Together, they have to solve the mysteries of both deaths.
To be clear, Cemetery Boys is a fantastic book that tells a fantastic story. I was riveted from start to finish, and that had nothing to do with everything that I was learning. It truly is a great story. But along the way, I also learned so much. I am not Latinx. I am not trans. And I’m not a bruja or any other practitioner of witchcraft. And yet simply through reading this incredibly entertaining story, I learned so much about what it’s like to live in those identities and communities. That’s the power of stories, and I love it so much.
Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!