Into the Light

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Pub Date 28 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 12 Feb 2024

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When you're like me, you have to lie.
It’s been one year since Manny was cast out of his family and driven into the wilderness of the American Southwest. Since then, Manny lives by self-taught rules that keep him moving—and keep him alive. Now, he’s taking a chance on a traveling situation with the Varela family, whose attractive but surly son, Carlos, seems to promise a new future.

I can't let anyone down.
Eli abides by the rules of his family, living in a secluded community that raised him to believe his obedience will be rewarded. But an unsettling question slowly eats away at Eli’s once unwavering faith in Reconciliation: Why can’t he remember his past?

What am I supposed to do?
But the reported discovery of an unidentified body found in the hills of Idyllwild, California, will draw both of these young men into facing their biggest fears and confronting their own identity—and who they are allowed to be.

Find the truth.
For fans of Courtney Summers and Tiffany D. Jackson, Into the Light is a ripped-from-the-headlines story with Oshiro's signature mix of raw emotions and visceral prose—but with a startling twist you’ll have to read to believe.

When you're like me, you have to lie.
It’s been one year since Manny was cast out of his family and driven into the wilderness of the American Southwest. Since then, Manny lives by self-taught rules...

Advance Praise

Praise for INTO THE LIGHT:

⭐"A standout, deeply felt portrait of a teenager’s longing for connection." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

⭐"An important and searing read on the value of family, agency, and belief." — Kirkus Review, starred review  

"Oshiro’s storytelling is unsettling and even upsetting, in the best possible way. Into the Light is a thoughtful, beautiful, riveting thriller that fans of dynamic character building, gritty mystery, and searing social commentary will devour in a heartbeat." — Booklist, starred review 

"A serious and contemplative exploration of identity and trauma." — NPR

Praise for Mark Oshiro:

“A sincere journey through nuanced struggles: the weight of pain, how hope and complicity feed immigrant exploitation, and breaking flawed social cycles. This ambitious, organically Spanish-studded examination of trauma stays adventurous and accessible, resulting in a grace-filled, loving declaration of human value and worth.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"I have been trying to find words that envelop my feelings for this book into a cohesive sentence, but since that could take years — this book is a stunning, incredible journey showing the ways that storytelling is an integral part of life." -Buzzfeed, Best YA Speculative Fiction of 2020

“This book is a prayer, and it also feels like a warning.” –NPR, Best Books of 2020

“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. A meditation and adventure quest offering solace to anyone bearing an unfair burden.” —Kirkus Reviews

“An essential book to read alongside The Hate U Give and Dear Martin.”—Kelly Jensen, editor of Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World

"Perfectly paced, gut-wrenching, powerful." —Rachel Strolle, Anderson's Bookshop

“Mark Oshiro joins the powerhouse of Jason Reynolds and Angie Thomas in this much needed and beautifully crafted examination of police brutality in the lives of high school students. You will fall in love, and you will learn: yes, anger is a gift."—Nicole Brinkley, Oblong Books

Praise for INTO THE LIGHT:

⭐"A standout, deeply felt portrait of a teenager’s longing for connection." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

⭐"An important and searing read on the value of family...

Marketing Plan

Marketing Campaign

- National author tour

- National print and online publicity campaign

-Extensive national advertising campaign in venues such as Book Riot, Goodreads, and Instagram, targeting YA contemporary readers and fans of thrillers and suspense.

-Early-reader review programs via Edelweiss, NetGalley, Shelf Awareness, Goodreads, Book Riot, Project LIT, and YA book festivals

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

-Indie Next campaign

-Indie pre-order kit

-Curated influencer box mailing, targeting LGBTQ and BIPOC bookstagrammers, Booktubers, and BookTok tastemakers

-Major digital marketing campaign to include partnering with YA influencers, content reveals, teaser video, author videos, virtual events, newsletter promotions, sweepstakes, custom social assets, and extensive coverage on Tor Teen’s social media platforms

-LGBTQ promotions for Pride Month

-Cross promotions with Macmillan Audio and Macmillan Podcasts

-Reading group guide

-Cross promotions with We Need Diverse Books

-Extensive school and library marketing including conference promotions

Marketing Campaign

- National author tour

- National print and online publicity campaign

-Extensive national advertising campaign in venues such as Book Riot, Goodreads, and Instagram, targeting YA...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781250812254
PRICE $19.99 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

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Average rating from 119 members

Featured Reviews

I loved this book. I read it in 2 sittings within 24 hours because I couldn’t put it down. As a queer, trans POC, this book made me feel seen, enraged, sad and hopeful.

The story follows Manny, a queer teenage Latinx foster kid, as he struggles to survive on the open road after being kicked out of a mysterious religious cult. As Manny meets some kind people, we slowly discover what happened to him, and the big secret that the cult is hiding.

This is a tough journey to follow, but Manny is an amazing, strong character and I found myself connecting to him deeply. The writing is very immediate as it’s written from Manny’s point of view. We feel all his reactions, fears and hopes as he works through his trauma. There is a big surprising reveal near the end that threw me a little as it changed the tone dramatically, but the narrative choice makes sense in the end.

Highly recommend this book. It’s a short read, but an important, impactful one.

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Wow this was such a great novel. I sobbed at this one; The angst and emotion in this are unreal. The cover alone... holy cow. This reminded me in a way of MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera but with a twist. I was totally invested in Eli trying to figure out his past.

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Into The Light is an absolutely incredible mystery and coming-of-age story that truly sucks you in and keeps you wanting more from the very first moment that you meet Manny, a queer, latinx teen adoptee who is also homeless and desperately trying to survive the world and find his sister. The book is told through flashbacks to various points of Manny's life and his present, traveling on the road with the Valera family.

I truly loved this book, and I really loved the style it was written it. It kept me on the edge of my seat, giving me enough pieces of the story to put together Manny's past but it still kept me wondering and constantly guessing at what might be next. The end truly had me emotional in the best way possible and wanting even more from the characters that I had fallen in love with and who I had seen grown so much.

this books does delve into very heavy topics, so I do recommend looking at the trigger warnings before picking his book up. However, I do highly recommend his book as I absolutely loved it and could not put it down!


The one part of this book that I didn't love was the big twist about 80% in. The twist itself was interesting, however it seemed to come out of no where. I wish there had been some indication of it before, something to lead up to the twist. It seemed as if Manny's memory had been erased by trauma, which I understand was the red herring however there was nothing supernatural before that point, and after the fact we got very little reaction to it and no explanation or questioning how it happened. I wish it had been expanded upon.

***** END SPOILERS*****

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I was impressed with this book. I’d heard Mark Oshiro was a great author and I did find this to be true. The story follows Manny, who is alone, homeless, and struggling after a serious trauma that we don’t find out about completely until close to the end of the book. I liked the build up as the story goes on and I felt like there were very few, if any, boring moments in the entire story. A definite page turner and one I greatly enjoyed.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Wow. This book was just amazing. A good choice for my first 5 star book of 2023. I can’t get over how beautiful and powerful this was.

Lie lie lie. That’s all Manny has ever known to do. Manny is a teenager who has been abandoned his whole life. All he’s ever known is his older sister Elena who was bounced around with him from foster home to foster home. She is the only family he’s ever known and the only person he’s ever loved. Now Manny has been homeless for a year and he’s looking for a way to get back to his sister after he was kicked out of the religious community he had been forcefully adopted to.

Eli is confused on who he is. Elena is his older sister who he loves and who tells him his purpose is the church and to help the other children find God. That he is a miracle. But who is he?

I felt so much anxiety and rage as Manny was describing his year of being homeless. All he knew to do was lie and try to get a way to get another meal and place to sleep. Never rely on anyone but yourself. When a kind family of two parents and a son decide to pick Manny up, he’s skeptical. He’s never stayed with anyone for longer than a few days before and the Varelas family is so kind to him he doesn’t want to believe it’s genuine. He doesn’t think anyone could possibly want to help him for nothing.

I loved the Varelas family so much. I wanted them to be the main focus as soon as they were introduced. They show that people are human and we have flaws. They are trying to do right after the pain they caused. They love their son Carlos and are determined to help Manny find his sister no matter what.

I don’t want to give too much away but y’all. That twist! My jaw literally fell to the ground. The summary was not wrong about you having to read it to believe it. I was screaming WHAT for about 3 minutes to myself. Nothing has ever made such perfect sense while also destroying my brain like that. I applaud Mark.

At the root of this, we touch on so many social issues. There’s homelessness and abandoned children in the foster care system. There’s racism, abuse, neglect, and homophobia. This is a found family story that packed a powerful punch.There were times I talked myself out of crying because I just felt so bad for Manny and his suffering. I wanted so badly for him to find his purpose and happiness. I can’t get over how much I loved this book and it comes out March 28th so check it out when it releases!

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This was my last read of 2022, and whew, what a note to end on.

INTO THE LIGHT is a breathless, literary thriller detailing a teen's escape from an ultra-religious community. I would *highly* recommend reading the trigger warnings before starting this book, especially for trauma associated with foster care/homelessness/queerness/racism/assault. It's by no means a light yarn. But it's a resonant one, and Oshiro tells it beautifully.

Occasionally I felt the pace stilted and became repetitive, losing its momentum, but generally I *devoured* these pages, racing toward the central mystery. And trust me when I say: You won't see the twist coming.

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Thank you to NetGalley & Tor Publishing for an early ARC of this book in return for an honest review.

Into the Light by Mark Oshiro is gut-wrenching and heart-breaking in all the best ways. I started this book around midnight and couldn't stop reading until I finished. I was so drawn in to learning more about Manny, a queer Latinx teen adoptee, and his story that I kept reading, page after page, until the sun came up. The story begins with Manny on the road, surviving and living off of gas station kindness and his own street smarts. As the story unfolds, we learn more about why Manny is living on his own on the road and how he was kicked out of a religious cult that changed his relationship with his sister, Elena. Manny tries to find his way back to his sister, who stayed by his side through many foster families, but the journey -- realistic, frustrating, and emotional -- is so much more than one could imagine.

Please, please check content warnings for this book. There's much to dwell on in this book: racism, the foster system, neglect, adoption, homophobia. Into the Light will draw all feelings out of you. It can be incredibly heavy at times, but the book itself is impactful and ultimately, beautiful, as Oshiro shows us that although a path towards the light often seems impossible, through self and found family, we can find hope.

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An utterly spectacular and gripping story. Masterful storytelling and craft on display. Absolutely loved it.

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Oh my word, this blew my mind. We learn bits and pieces about Manny's life in a series of flash backs. So many parts don't feel like they are going to connect, but just trust Mark Oshiro to guide you through it. Partly about the horrors of conversion camps, partly a mystery, and partly the story of found family, and definitely a story of trust the whole way through. This will keep you flipping pages.

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Very compelling story tackling topics like religious trauma and homelessness.

Even though I know this book is a reflection of the author's bad experience in a toxic Christian community, I am glad that that's addressed for how it is: toxic. Not saying that every Christian and Christian community and church is evil. That there are people (in any religion or community otherwise) even that are evil and toxic and can impact teens' lives for the worse.

I'm glad about how that all was addressed, because I am a Christian, and I've seen many books handle these topics poorly, portraying all Christians in an evil light. I think this book used this topic very respectfully, even including Christian characters in this evil community who had no part in the messed-up cult, but still holding to their own morals and religious values.

This book also handled anxiety, homelessness, and PTSD very well. This was a tough read because of the topics, but I am glad to have read it. It was very good.

Now, I wasn't expecting that bit of supernatural mystery stuff, but it was very interesting nonetheless!

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This book was one of those books that I could not be put down once I picked it up. It grabbed me from the beginning and it didn't stop. There are two types of characters in this story; the ones you love with all your heart and wish the absolute best for and the ones you absolutely hate and cannot wait for their downfall. Both types of characters are compelling, interesting, and have so much depth to them. This story can be dark and a little hard to read at times, it's important to check your content warnings to make sure it is something you feel safe reading. I loved this book so much and I look forward to reading more of Mark Oshiro's work.

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A profoundly heartbreaking—and ultimately hopeful—book. It's so poignantly true to its title, and this book will indeed bring the darker parts of the adoption industry, and churches that misuse religion for power, into the light. I'll read anything that Mark Oshiro writes!

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Absolutely incredible! This book was complex and gripping and kept me reading long into the night just wanting to figure out what would happen next. This book went to some pretty dark places, but it handled even the roughest parts of Manny's story with empathy, grace, and beautiful prose. The mystery was complicated and satisfying. As an avid fantasy reader, I loved the twist, although I can see how readers who aren't into fantasy might find it a little jarring. Personally, I don't have any complaints. I have a feeling this book will stick with me for a long time, and am eagerly awaiting whatever else Mark Oshiro writes.

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Into the Light by Mark Oshiro was a gutting read. Oshiro mentions that this book is meant to be like a "light at the end of the tunnel" and it truly felt that way but my goodness was the tunnel dark.

The story was not one that I expected and I've read some reviews that have said the same and I believe it's because the synopsis is vague. But given that majority of this book is a mystery, I think having a vague synopsis is okay. I'm slightly worried that some people might find the contents of the book triggering so I hope the trigger warnings are listed publicly and I will certainly mention it when recommending this book.

The story is told in 3 different timelines. It's not described but the writing is excellent in letting the reader know by like the 3rd of 4th paragraph, where we are in time. What I loved was how each chapter and time changed flowed so well and were cleverly connected. The different povs add to the mystery and it was fun (it feels wrong to say that though given the topic) to try to put everything together. When everything converged it did so with a bang; it was climactic and shocking.

The start was a bit hard to get through. The writing style at the beginning had short sentences and it felt almost detached and curt which gives you insight to how detached and alone Manny is but it feels awkward for the reader. Disturbs any flow but when we are in the past, the sentences become longer and they flow better. But as you read along, you start getting used to it and it's not noticeable anymore. Either that or what I believe is that the writing is this way on purpose. The beginning is curt and detached to match Manny and the way he is in order to survive. As the story moves forward we see more of Manny and with each reveal he starts growing into more of a character and less like an empty shell and so the writing changes and gets more "present" and more full. When he starts reverting back in moments of high stress and when he's triggered, the writing reflects it by going back to being distant.

The foster system sucks and it truly did show it well here. Especially it showed how much a lot of adults will not listen to the children they're supposed to care for and the betrayal of being hurt by the ppl who are supposed to care for you and about you. That was heartbreaking to read and as the novel progressed and Manny started opening up more and we saw more of his past, we started to feel his hurt a lot more. The fear and betrayal and the feeling of helplessness when he got stuck somewhere was felt so strongly.

The flashbacks were the most gripping to read. The tension and horror was potent and it felt like watching a train wreck. You knew something horrible would happen but you couldn't look away from how it happened and as it was happening.

There are a good few characters and I loved Manny and Rakeem the best. The development was harsh and hard-won; to me the end was bittersweet to be honest.

The last thing I wanna mention is the addition of that twist ending. It was absolutely wild but I can't help but wonder if the themes and messages being tackled would have worked just as well without it and if it would have worked better if the entire thing was realistic/realism. It did feel kind of random and shocking though a review did mention it so I knew something was coming. It didn't take away from the story for me to be spoiled but I do think that without having that prior knowledge, it would have felt like it came out of left field.

Regardless I did love the novel. It felt a bit slow and made me wonder if it needed to be so long but to be honest I think we needed that length for the development to be slow and realistic. The writing matching the character and his devolpement, the themes, the darkness and sadness and the light at the end, it all was done incredibly well. And honestly I read this during a time of my life where I feel lost, feel separated from my religion and can't connect to it even if I do believe in some aspects of it and overall feel distant and locked away so Manny's character and his emotions hit me hard. I would have loved the book even if I wasn't in a place where Manny felt like he got in my head and spoke everything outloud.

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Thank you so much to NetGalley and TorTeen for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I really, really loved this book! The prose really surprised me, I think this is Mark Oshiro's best work. I think I really needed a good, sort of unsettling thriller and this definitely checked that box for me. My only complaint is that the book was split into multiple different POVs and there was no way to tell the difference between them. I wish there was some sort of indicator like "Before", "During", "After", etc. But I also understand this is an eARC and maybe they just haven't added those in yet. Overall, this is a really good book!!

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*Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Publishing Group, Tor Teen for providing me this arc in exchange of an honest review.*

This book was captivating even from the first chapter. It deals with a lot trigger warnings such as adoption, racism and religious cult. I was not very familiar with these issues and it took a toll on me from the first pages. This wonderful coming of age story was excellent. I feared, cried and got really sad for Manny. Will I reread this story? Probably no. Will I insist you read it? DEFINITELY YES!

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This was the first book I’ve read by Mark Oshiro and you best believe I will be reading everything they write from now on. Wow. This book was amazing. It was intense, suspenseful, heartwrenching, painful, scary, and beautiful all at the same time. What makes this book really stand out to me as a great thriller is the fact that almost everything that happens in this book can (and unfortunately does) happen in real life. The reality of it all made everything feel so much more intense and scary. Conversion therapy, religious abuse, abuse by adoptive parents, homophobia, and houselessness are all topics that are discussed throughout this book very heavily which was a bit overwhelming at times. The small fantasy elements of this book were a little disappointing and I feel like the book could have done without them– they pulled me out of the story and were confusing to understand. This book is going to take the world by storm. It’s real and raw and very very painful but it is written with such grace. I loved this book!!

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What a beautifully written coming of age story of both devastation and hope. I think a lot of people will be able to find a little bit of themselves in this story, and perhaps not always in a good way, yet somehow in a healthy way. The traumas experienced by children here are written in a hard hitting way, as they should be, but with a masterfully delicate hand.

This story takes us through Manny’s life as a homeless teenaged boy who has been brutally disowned by America’s foster care system in horrendous ways that are slowly revealed throughout the book. In his early years, at least he had his sister by his side while moving from one foster home to the next but eventually lost her to the religious cult he was outcast from. Now he fears for her life and wants to save her, but doesn’t have means or knowledge to do so. We’re taken on both a heartwarming and heartbreaking journey as he attempts to cling to the one thing he feels he has left as he himself learns what it means to trust and to love.

Both adoption and religion are not big things in my country and while I do have a small connection to the US via family, it’s hard for me to understand the atrocities that can happen in what the rest of the world generally considers a very well-to-do country. Such cruelty happens everywhere, but it’s still hard for me to reconcile and justify what can and does happen there. This story, while a work of fiction, helped me understand some of that.

Another thing is that sometimes I pick up YA fiction and slide into it easily; this book was definitely one of those. But there are a few where unfortunately where I can tell that I’m just not the right target demographic. I feel that this however can easily be enjoyed by ages older than beyond the young adult genre it’s listed in. The author again is delicate with words but they hit hard where they need to, and a bit softer where warranted. I feel it’s masterfully written and am interested to see where Mark Oshiro will take us in future stories. An easy 5 star novel from me.

A huge thanks to NetGalley and Tor for giving me this ARC in exchange for an unbiased review!

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INTO THE LIGHT by Mark Oshiro proved to be quite gripping; I read the book very quickly. One thing Oshiro does so well is that he shows the impacts of Manny's experiences without traumatizing the reader. It's very clear Manny's experienced hardships in his year of homelessness and, of course, his time prior to that. The Valeras are also well-written adult characters who own their mistakes and try to make amends for hard they caused. The way they treat Manny is almost shocking in that they truly care about him and forgive a mistake he makes without punishing him for it. The actions of the Valeras turn Manny's life around right then, even though he doesn't realize it in the moment.

It's difficult to talk about INTO THE LIGHT without spoilers. Overall, many of the relationships in the story, including that between siblings Manny and Elena, are well written and compelling. Oshiro offers a range of adult characters, which provides needed dimension in a story that could lean into one-note villains. This is definitely a book I'll recommend to students who want to write about religion through a teen narrator.

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Thank you NetGalley and Tor Teen for the ARC! The book follows Manny whose story unfolds through a series of flashbacks and current events narrative. Manny has fled a religious group/cult (who also perform conversion "therapy"). Lucky he has been taken in by a family with an interesting backstory of their own. Manny worries for the sister he left behind when a body is discovered on the property of the group and he sets off to find her. There is an unexpected twist in the back half of the book that could detract some readers, but adds another layer to this impactful story.

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An Incredible and horrifying queer story against themes like conversion therapy, unfair social security, white supremacists giving toxic behavior to religion communities, being constantly in homeless situation. Every chapter between Manny and Eli got some heavy, darker and painful thoughts around the plot plus poetic language mixing any idea of being oppressed even if you're life is being be portraying by anti queer people in places like that. I really appreciate and I was impacted by author's words. If you need a queer horror story setting in a real world, this book is how the white supremacist still working against queer people of color.

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Woah! My first Oshiro read and I was utterly engrossed!

Into the Light by Mark Oshiro is a thought provoking YA mystery read!
While also delivering a story of self discovery.
The writing style is stunning as Oshiro leads us through a story I will soon not forget.
And the story it was utterly gripping and written in a wonderfully compelling way.
The character development was done extremely well throughout. Like freaking amazing.
Manny and Eli are both wonderful characters. But Manny he tugged at the heart.
I can't get this book enough justice.... Just pick it up and open it. You won't be sorry!

"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."

Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Teen for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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I’ve felt this before.
I think we all have.
I’ve been Manny.
Running fast towards nowhere.
It’s true, in this world if you do not fit the mold then sometimes there is no where to fit. I realized this is what manny struggled with and I’m sure he secretly hoped that even though he was lost that he would be found; loved. But he’d already scarified so much of himself for what he believed was love, could be love.
His sister; the the only person in his life that gave him validation, made him feel real, and useful in this world had put so much distance between them and manny had lost all that he was trying to shorten that distance.
He’d lost himself
He’d lost his sister
He’d lost his hope.
But he was determined to get it all back. All he had to do was break a couple more rules.

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