Thursday, February 1, 2018

February's Book of the Month--All the Wind in the World

February’s Book of the Month is the lyrical, magical YA novel ALL THE WIND IN THE WORLD, by Samantha Mabry.

Sarah Jac and James have a dream. Even though they work in dusty fields of the American Southwest, they want their own place someday, a ranch on the East Coast where they can work with horses and dip their toes in the ocean. Unfortunately, like so many others, they are stuck harvesting maguey, the plant used to make pulque, mescal or, for the very rich, tequila. It’s the only thing that grows now that more than half the continent is desert, with what water that’s left being “salty, unfiltered, and full of the dust-remains of dead fish and birds.” When Sarah Jac steps in to help a fellow worker and a foreman ends up dying, she and James flee to a strange ranch in Texas where they know they’ll find work. Cursed fields, an owner who hexes his workers, drugged food, and strange injuries are just some of the rumors muttered about The Real Marvelous.

Sarah Jac and James know how dangerous it can be to show weakness to others, so they harden their hearts and trust no one. Even though they’re a couple, they routinely run a scam where James takes up with another woman. But, at The Real Marvelous, when James manages to catch the eye of the owner’s daughter things begin to spiral out of control.

Long-listed for the National Book Award, ALL THE WIND IN THE WORLD evokes a tough and gritty landscape where only a lucky few have the means to live a decent life. Author Mabry sets up a terrific conflict when she shoves the temptation to be one of them at James. I think he’s perhaps the most interesting YA love interest I’ve ever read, and Mabry plays it well—do we ever really know what’s going on in the heart and mind of James? Beautiful language, the element of magical realism, and a romance that’s being scoured by the dusty desert make this one heck of a page-turner.


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