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{{Alert: A few spoilers in this review}}

Jam lives in a world very different from ours. Lucille, her hometown, long ago experienced a revolution in which “angels” used a variety of ways to get rid of “monsters.” What they were left with is a society whose theme is, “We are each other’s harvest. We are each other’s business. We are each other’s magnitude and bond.” It’s a place where Jam’s parents immediately embrace her first words at age 3: “Girl! Girl! Girl!” and immediately smooth the way for her social and then medical transition. Jam’s best friend, Redemption, learned sign language to speak with her, as did several members of Redemption’s family, which is headed by three parents. Race is never talked about, although sometimes skin color and hair texture are mentioned. In short, it’s idyllic. 

Until something happens and Jam meets Pet, an otherworldly creature who tells her not only that there is still a monster in Lucille, but it’s in Redemption’s house. 

The problem is – and here is where Jam’s world begins to overlap ours – no one will believe her. They took care of the monsters years ago; there are no more. Any trans or nonbinary individual or survivor of sexual violence or the like can probably relate: everyone essentially says, “you’re confused little girl,” pats her on the head, and sends her away. Even her parents, who under pressure admit they met some monsters during the revolution, refuse to believe her; an experience she has never had before.

Jam would like to be like everyone else and just ignore Pet. Except that Pet said the monster was in Redemption’s house. That meant her best friend might be in danger. Could she accept that risk and simply walk away?

We won’t give any more spoilers. 

Although Pet, by Akwaeke Emezi, is a young adult novel, adult readers are likely to find it as captivating as teenagers will. It’s won many awards, and was recently featured in a FORGE book club discussion. It’s a think piece, a warning, and inspirational, all at once.