Review copy provided by the publisher.
This is a novella about a trans guy whose Houston home floods and about his life with a dybbuk in a shelter in Dallas. If you read that sentence and thought, “ooh, that might be for me if it’s done well!”, congratulations, you are correct, this is definitely for you.
Noah’s experiences in the emergency shelter are about as much sunshine and lollipops as you’d expect, but there are some rainbows to be found in the community that he both builds and finds there. It’s perfectly drawn of imperfect humans–Kern has noticed that even excellent allies don’t always share the same priorities, and negotiating those with kindness and patience in the face of deteriorating conditions can be hard, sometimes feeling impossible. Kern draws these relationships so very well.
The shape of the ending is particularly wonderful at a time like this: a turning toward kindness and toward community in a world that would make it easier to shut others out. The speculative element ties in excellently with the real world strengths of this novella. I’ll be looking for more by Kern.