Title: Cemetery Boys
Author: Aiden Thomas
Audience: Young Adult
Narrator: Avi Roque
Length: 14 hours (352 pages)
Publisher: Swoon Reads; Macmillan Audio
Release Date: August 21, 2020
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
I think this is an important story for young adult readers, bringing awareness to issues faced by underrepresented groups by portraying realistic queer, trans, and Latinx teen characters. I loved the rich influence of Mexican culture on this book, and I think Aiden Thomas did a fantastic job of blending Dia de los Muertos traditions with the paranormal fantasy elements to make a compelling story.
Yadriel and Julian’s opposites-attract, forbidden, impossible romance was so sweet and swoon worthy. And I loved Maritza! The way each teen character struggled to find the balance between being authentically themselves and meeting their family’s expectations was so well-written.
I did predict one of the major twists, which lessened the impact of the ending, and I thought some of the magic was a bit too convenient. But I really enjoyed this book and I would love to see more of these characters!