Each of Us a Desert

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.

Buy this Book on

Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add kindle@netgalley.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 15 Sep 2020 | Archive Date 15 Sep 2020


From award-winning author Mark Oshiro comes a powerful coming-of-age fantasy novel about finding home and falling in love amidst the dangers of a desert where stories come to life

Xochitl is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village's stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enigmatic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.

Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.

One night, Xo's wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town's murderous conqueror. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match... if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

Fresh off of Anger Is a Gift's smashing success, Oshiro branches out into a fantastical direction with their new YA novel, Each of Us a Desert.

From award-winning author Mark Oshiro comes a powerful coming-of-age fantasy novel about finding home and falling in love amidst the dangers of a desert where stories come to life

Xochitl is destined...

Advance Praise

"Oshiro deftly weaves an intricate, allegorical, and often gory tale within a post-apocalyptic desert setting that readers will feel so viscerally they may very well need to reach for a glass of water. It is a world parallel to ours, rife with Biblical references and the horrific traps that Latinx immigrants face while seeking better lives. Xochitl’s first-person, questioning narration—interlaced with terrifying cuentos that she receives on her journey—is the strongest voice, although secondary and tertiary characters, both human and mythical, are given a tenderness and humanity. All main characters are Latinx, and queer relationships are integrated with refreshing normality. A meditation and adventure quest offering solace to anyone bearing an unfair burden." - Kirkus Reviews 

"The writing, akin to an atmospheric, novel-length poem, seamlessly weaving in Spanish and matter of- fact queer representation, is beautiful to read. Contemplative teens will appreciate this meaningful story about human existence." —Booklist

"Oshiro deftly weaves an intricate, allegorical, and often gory tale within a post-apocalyptic desert setting that readers will feel so viscerally they may very well need to reach for a glass of...

Marketing Plan

-National media campaign

-National author tour

-Extensive national print and online advertising campaign, including Goodreads and Bookriot

-Prepublication buzz campaign, including trade and consumer advertising

-Early-reader review programs via NetGalley, Goodreads, Shelf Awareness, BookRiot, and consumer book festivals

-Major ARC distribution to media, booksellers, and industry big mouths

-ABA Box mailing

-Indie Next campaign

-Teen advisory board and YA book club promotions

-Dedicated digital marketing campaign to include newsletter promotions, sweepstakes, partnering with social YA influencers, and extensive coverage on Tor Teen’s social media platforms

-Digital preview

-Featured title in #OwnYourMagic marketing campaign

-Promotional giveaways for events and conferences

-Extensive school and library marketing, including conference promotions via ARC and promo distribution, in-booth display and signage

-National media campaign

-National author tour

-Extensive national print and online advertising campaign, including Goodreads and Bookriot

-Prepublication buzz campaign, including trade and consumer...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781250169211
PRICE $17.99 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB)
Send to Kindle (EPUB)

Average rating from 182 members

Featured Reviews

In a post apocalyptic world, Xochitl is la cuentista, a kind of sin eater through the stories her community tells her. A traumatic event causes her to run and try to learn how to find value in herself beyond what she does for her village and find the truth of her abilities.

This was beautiful and lyrical and left me breathless. A book about the importance of the stories we tell each other and ourselves, and the choices that we make.

Was this review helpful?

First of all, I want to thank Tor Teen for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest thoughts, celebrating "Latino Book Month"

WOW, I'm really impressed by the quality, intensity, reality, and depth of this story, I think it will be one of those difficult reviews to write due to the emotional charge that this book gives me with its pages. There's so much that I could share with you about the book, but I'll try to give what I can without spoilers, throwing all my thoughts and feelings here, so I hope it's understood. In summary, this book is a poem about the strengths and weaknesses of human beings. It's about overcoming fear & going in search of your own truth and your own destiny, I loved it, obviously!

This story follows Xochitl, "la cuentista" of her village who one day, after a tragic and unexpected event, decides to go out to pursue the truth about her destiny and for this, she must undertake a dangerous journey across the desert. But their path ends up bumping into Emilia's, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town's murderous mayor, and together they'll go through hundreds of creepy and challenging obstacles to discover their destinies, and meanwhile, something magical begins to emerge between them.

I loved it! Something really magical happened to me with this book, I knew that I would love it from the moment I started reading it, there's something in which it feels very captivating and unique, so it was inevitable for me to commit myself to the story and the characters. It's also super special for me due to the amount of Spanish I found in the story. If you're not Spanish-speaking, don't worry, the author makes everything understood perfectly anyway, but being Latina myself, it felts super nice to find a story that's so familiar and fluid in such a special way for you, you know?

The plot is the most unique thing I've read in a while, and also something strange and difficult to explain, but I will try. In this book, as I mentioned before, we follow Xo, and she's a cuentista, which means that she has a special ability which allows her to retain people's stories and then deliver them to Solís (who's their god) and so allow these people to feel relieved and not be persecuted for their nightmares or past guilt, and after having delivered those stories Xo immediately forgets about them, but it does drain a lot of her energy which leaves her super tired until even make her sleepy for many hours. So this story focuses on this concept in a world where "Solís" has given this "privilege" to certain people, and they become the most important people in their villages, being a job or duty for life. On the other hand, even when everyone believes that being the cuentista is a great privilege, Xo feels drained by it, and after terrible situations, she begins to see it as a curse. Also, this "power" has been passed to her by her aunt before she died, which is why she has never had a real chance to be or do anything else, you know? And with all that comes this journey in which hundreds of magical, shocking, and supernatural things happen.

In this book, we have a lot of magic happening all the time, even when they're atrocious situations because it's not a fairy tale, in fact, it's a very graphic, hard-hitting, and bloody book, so if you're an easily impressed person, I recommend discretion. I was so shocked when so many gory and brutal things begin to happen, I certainly didn't expect it, but I think it's the tone of the book and that scene remains throughout the course of it. So I could say that it's a survival story too, because the characters will have to face extreme climates under super scarce resources. In addition to the cuentistas, we also have other beings such as "Los Guardianes", "Los Sabuesos" and "Los Palidos" among others, who are represented in the form of animals (wolves, cats, bears) as well as in other humanoid forms.

On the other hand, I can't fail to mention another kind of magic that occurs in the book and they are the relationships between each character, it felt so real to me, especially because there's a sub-plot in this story where Xo finds poems on the way and feels absolutely attracted to them for things that she still doesn't know and there's such a powerful message there of love and of super innocent and sweet energy. I think magic is also in everything the author shows us through small gestures.

The writing style is wonderful, one of my favorite things about the book, it's easy to read but at the same time it's complex and poetic, and it fulfills with transmits all the feelings that the characters are going through, it's a story that although it focuses in fantasy you can feel its great power and strength in the realistic side. I can't wait to read more from the author to continue experiencing his unique style. In addition, the plot is told from Xo's perspective, but as telling everything that happened to Solís, which seemed like a great detail to me, as well as we also have small poems, which are beautiful.

There's a female/female romance happening in the book and I adore it, especially since it's not 100% focused on it and it's not very heavy, in fact, it develops very naturally and is a slow-burn kind of romance, which I personally LOVE. I really enjoyed it, each scene of these girls interacting is wonderful, it's all super organic and perfectly imperfect. In addition to the romance, we have a lot of diversity, obviously, all the characters are Latinos, but we also have gay and lesbian representations, played in a very casual and natural way in these communities, which is great.

The main character is Xochitl, and she's great! She's a super-strong young woman, she doesn't know it, though, because she has lived all her life in the same place and doesn't know much about life outside her village, but once she decides going out to discover, you can really see the inner strength that she has and a great conviction to find her truth. She has a super noticeable growth, she begins having many doubts about her life and what's true and what's not, and after facing so many obstacles that make her grow, we can see a different girl more determined and ready to decide for the first time for herself. I'm proud of the journey that Xo undertakes and above all, of her great growth and personal development. Emilia is amazing too, a super interesting character, she's the daughter of a ruthless man who goes village by village destroying everything, and at first, you don't know what her role really is, but when the character develops and we know her whole story, we can know the reason for her attitudes and decisions. I adore Emilia, she's a really kind soul, and she has gone through so many injustices that really breaks my heart, but also as Xo, she becomes strong and ready to show her true self. Then we have hundreds of characters that we know on our trip and others who live at each stop that the characters make, and although there's not much development of them, you do can appreciate their personalities and even feel connected to them and their lives. I want to mention Julio specifically because he's one of the most awful, evil and terrible villains that I've read in a long time, I really came to hate him, a ruthless man that dragged everything in his path for his desire for power . Then we have several wonderful and interesting souls that I will mention quickly like Rosalinda, Felipe, Manolito, Luz & Eliazar, all them AMAZING.

The story takes place in the desert, so it's a fairly vast and desolate image that gives the story a lot of meaning in itself. We also toured villages and towns, desolate and ravaged by what was is called "La Quema". We also explore places underground, so the whole landscape is quite sad, but also very atmospheric and scary.

This book, in addition to being wonderful because you go throughout a discovery journey and search for freedom, also discusses and questions many belief systems that these people have, and the characters are super confused because they've grown up thinking in a certain way and suddenly everything is uncertain and it seems that everything was a lie or that things aren't as they seem. I liked that this is discussed, as well as "realities are created by our beliefs" and that "we're shaped by the experiences that we live". The book forces the characters at times to challenge their biggest fears and is heartbreaking, but also eye-opening for them and makes the plot even more incredible. I think the blurb doesn't do the story justice, I don't think this is a simple romance, you know? This book is much more than that, it's self-discovery, it's facing the truth, it's fighting for your freedom, it's learning to put yourself first and be responsible for your decisions, and it's to grow and heal. It's wonderful and I'm very happy to have had the chance to read it.

I know that maybe it's a disorganized review, but honestly, I couldn't explain all these feelings with words and do justice to the book, as well as it's a rather difficult and complex promise to explain in its entirety, even more without spoilers. But, I hope I've done my best and that you feel that desire to give it a chance because it's very worth it. It's a whimsical story and I would highly recommend it if you enjoy complex and weird storylines, but the best kind of weird, you know? I compare this story a lot with Seanan McGuire's stories, for some reason they resonate for me, and I remembered Middlegame a lot while reading this book for its original plot and its unexpected twists, but also for the whimsical and crazy of the stories and that power to make you addictive to them. I highly recommend it, and I hope you decide to give it a try as soon as it comes out on September 15th, 2020, I know you have to wait a little while but it's worth it, I promise.

Was this review helpful?

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro is a spectacular story. The title alone gripped me and I knew I would be in for a powerful journey; I wasn't wrong.

Was this review helpful?

Each of Us a Desert takes place in post apocalyptic Central America, following a small town's cuentista as she ventures out of her town and travels through the desert with the daughter of a man who brought death and destruction to her village and led to her starting her journey. As cuentista, Xochitl takes people's stories from them and gives them back to Solís, their deity. She's had this duty since she was 8 years old and much o her journey revolves around her wondering why she keeps doing this and if there's anyway she might change how it's done.

Before I start the actual review, I want to say that I really hope to reread this at some point, because I wasn't in the best place while reading this. I got distracted easily, I read short sections with lots of pauses because I was having several panic attacks a day and couldn't focus, my mental health was dipping. So I definitely couldn't appreciate the beautiful writing and sceneries and characters to the full extent I might have at other times. I'm still writing the review because despite all that, I kept coming back to read when I physically could, because anytime I read this, I was enveloped in the world and felt rejuvenated, even if just for a short while.

This was a little different from the genres I usually read, but I still loved being pulled into it for a little while everyday. It's hard not to fall in love with just about anything given how beautiful Oshiro writes. They have a wonderful way of painting the setting around the characters in such a vivid way that I could practically feel the desert heat and sand scraping against my skin. There was such a wide range of rich, complex characters and it was the sort of plot that by the end, I realized just how well everything tied together and all the signs that pointed towards it all along.

Even reading it under less than ideal circumstances, this novel was a masterpiece. I'm looking forward to rereading it with a clearer head and I encourage everyone to pick this up once it comes out!

Was this review helpful?

"We are the stories we tell one another." And if this were the only story we were to tell each other until the end of time, it might be enough. Each of Us a Desert is a sweeping story of hope, of love, of self-discovery, and of the power of stories.

Xochitl is a cuentista (storyteller) in her post-apocalyptic desert village. She takes a person's story from them - and their guilt along with it - and returns it to the universe in a ritual honoring the god Solís. But she doesn’t want to be a cuentista, she doesn’t want any of it. Instead, she heads off on a quest to rid herself of her cuentista abilities. This quest takes her far beyond the village, the only place she's ever known, and into the harsh, often dangerous, world of the desert ravaged by Solís and other, powerful people seeking to do harm and to control others.

When I finished this book, I had to stare at the ceiling and let waves of emotion wash over me. It was truly an epic journey, but it also created space for softer character moments that served as the core of this story. It was a literary journey unlike any I've taken before, not driven by conquest or a search for adventure, but driven instead by a love of story and by hope.

The characters, Xochitl, Emilia, and all the others they come across on their journey, are so empathetic and completely understandable. Even though they are far from perfect, you root for them along their somewhat mysterious journey. Xochitl's cuentista abilities are the perfect lens through which to unravel the mystery this story creates, and allows for tremendous character moments and growth.

I will recommend this story forever, to anyone who is even remotely interested. It is appropriate for young adult audiences, though a bit scary at times, and will entertain even the most particular adult readers as well. I'm already excited to buy this book, to hold it in my hands and highlight all the lines that spoke to me, because there were countless lines that still bounce around my head more than a week after reading it.

Was this review helpful?

This book was gorgeous, which I expected nothing less from Mark Oshiro. A stunning story, with real characters and a world that you could so easily fall into. I read this in one sitting but didn't stop thinking about it for days.

Was this review helpful?

“Cada una de nosotras es una desierta
Solitaria y vasta
Nos estiramos por siempre
Each of us a desert
Solitary and vast
We stretch forever”
-Each of Us a Desert, Mark Oshiro

Each of Us a Desert is about the journey of Xochitl, una cuentista, a storyteller, who is blessed with this gift which she considers a curse, to find her purpose. Xochitl takes the stories, or perhaps the scars of the people in her village. It’s a tiresome ritual that leaves Xochitl exhausted and makes her forgetful. She has this responsibility to do this for everyone whenever they need her so they are not haunted by their pesadillas. Xochitl yearns for more. She cannot fathom the idea that this is what her life comes down to, just taking people’s stories and forgetting about it. She then decides to go on a journey and meets many people along the way. She finds much more than what she originally hopes to find. However, once she reaches the end, she realizes that she changes so much and she finally knows what she is meant to do. What she has to do, and how she will do it moving forward.

I can do my best to write my thoughts on this book or summarize in my own words, but I feel like it’s not enough. This book is so much more than everything I mentioned above. It’s about love, and a really deep hurt. It’s about even though we feel alone and relate to no one, there’s someone out there, perhaps within the desert, that sees the way we see and feels and struggles to one similar to our own. It’s about understanding how the people in our life are a part of who we are in a way and how much they mean to us. This book, to say the least, is a masterpiece. I’ve never read anything like it before.

My goal with this post is to enlighten you all about this upcoming release. Each of US a Desert is worth everything! Every hype, every shout out, every—everything! I was left breathless and I stood up until 3 am reading it, and now I can’t stop thinking about it. Each of Us a Desert releases 9/15/2020. I will definitely be preordering, make sure you do to!

#eachofusadesert #markoshiro #latinx #latinxreads #bookstagram #bookish #latinxfantasy #netgalley #netgalleyreads #bookreview

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: