Into the Light

Tor Teen. Mar. 2023. 448p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250812254.
Gr 9 Up–Seventeen-year-old Manny has been unhoused and traveling California for a year, ever since he was cast out of his deeply religious family. A Latinx-cued, queer adoptee, Manny has experienced multiple forms of trauma from previous foster families, but his last family, the Sullivans, are deeply devoted to televangelist Deacon Thompson. Thompson encourages white couples to adopt and “save” children of color. Manny and his biological sister Elena are quickly sent to Reconciliation, a religious camp that uses conversion style therapies to “re-educate” the adopted children. When Manny is unable to be “saved,” he is cast out and separated from Elena. With the help of the Varela family, Manny begins to process his trauma and sets out to reunite with his sister. Oshiro uses an intentional nonlinear time line to build suspense and slowly reveal the mystery of the plot and an interesting twist. However, the strength of the story is the horrific realism and exploration of corrupted religious institutions, the broken foster care system, and the survivors that escape. There are depictions of neglect, religious abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, racialized violence, and homophobia.
VERDICT A realistic, sometimes horrifying depiction of religious trauma. Recommended for readers who enjoy the works of Courtney Summers and Tiffany D. Jackson.

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