Cemetery Boys

Cemetery Boys

by Aiden Thomas
Genres: Young Adult
Published on September 1, 2020
Format: Hardcover Source: Library

A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas's paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as "groundbreaking."
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can't get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true 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 off 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.

This book was so well done. You see so many books that have magical systems that are strictly gender-based. This book takes that idea and turns it on its head.

In this world the men work with ghosts. They monitor them to make sure they aren’t losing their personality and going malignant. If they are, they help them cross over. The women are healers.

Yadriel is a trans teenager. He was assigned female at birth but his mother knew something was off when he never had any aptitude as a child for healing. She tried to discuss this with his father but he didn’t want to hear it. Yadriel’s mother died last year and his father has refused to discuss Yadriel’s magic with him even though he is supportive of his gender identity.

Yadriel knows that he has male magical talents. He’s 15 now and that is when he should have been presented to the Goddess. His father would not let him go through the ceremony. So Yadriel and a friend did the ceremony themselves in secret. The Goddess accepted him as a brujo. Now he just has to do something big enough with his brujo magic for his father to realize that he isn’t lacking in talent.

Another way this turns this type of magical story on its head is the role of the women. Usually this trope has men having some important powers and regulating the female healers to the background. In this story the women are doctors and psychiatrists who are all the principle money-makers in the family because of their skills. I liked that.

The main themes in the story are about not judging people before getting to know them. Julian has a lot of rumors that surround him at school but none of them are exactly true. To learn the truth people, including Yadriel, need to look more closely.

This book takes place in a few days around Halloween and los Dios de la Muerte. This is the perfect time to read it.