**An NPR Best Book of 2021
NYPL 10 Best Books for Adults, 2021
A story collection, in the vein of Carmen Maria Machado, Kelly Link, and Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, spanning worlds and dimensions, using strange and speculative elements to tackle issues ranging from class differences to immigration to first-generation experiences to xenophobia**
What does it mean to be other? What does it mean to love in a world determined to keep us apart?
These questions murmur in the heart of each of Brenda Peynado’s strange and singular stories. Threaded with magic, transcending time and place, these stories explore what it means to cross borders and break down walls, personally and politically. In one story, suburban families perform oblations to cattlelike angels who live on their roofs, believing that their “thoughts and prayers” will protect them from the world’s violence. In another, inhabitants of an unnamed dictatorship slowly lose their own agency as pieces of their bodies go missing and, with them, the essential rights that those appendages serve. “The Great Escape” tells of an old woman who hides away in her apartment, reliving the past among beautiful objects she’s hoarded, refusing all visitors, until she disappears completely. In the title story, children begin to levitate, flying away from their parents and their home country, leading them to eat rocks in order to stay grounded.
With elements of science fiction and fantasy, fabulism and magical realism, Brenda Peynado uses her stories to reflect our flawed world, and the incredible, terrifying, and marvelous nature of humanity.