A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The story illustrates that dangerous people, "monsters," look just like ordinary people. Sometimes even people who appear to be pillars of the community may not be who they seem.
Be brave enough to face ugly truths.
Positive Role Models
The main character is a selectively mute transgender teen girl with a supportive family and a solid best friend.
Violence & Scariness
A young boy is physically and possibly sexually abused. A woman is said to be the product of her mother's rape. In one scene, a character is graphically disfigured.
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Infrequent strong language, including "s--t" and variations of "f--k."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pet, by Akwaeke Emezi, is a science fiction-fantasy novel about a transgender teen girl who hunts a child abuser in her town with the help of a creature that comes to life from her mother's painting. Jam lives in the town of Lucille, where, according to all the adults, "monsters" (people who commit abuse against others) have been eliminated by "angels" (valiant members of the community who led a revolution). There's infrequent strong language, including "s--t" and variations of "f--k." Three specific instances of violence occur: A child is physically, and possibly sexually, abused. A woman is said to be the product of rape. The revenge against the abuser is graphic.
Is It Any Good?
This exquisite book could be a great comfort for the kind of young reader who feels alone in facing the world's darkness. Akwaeke Emezi (Freshwater, adult fiction long-listed for the Carnegie Medal and National Book Award) decided that Pet, their debut YA novel, would depict a teen who's not yet sexual and a transgender character whose life is not tragic. Jam is accepted, supported, and loved, and gets to have an adventure. She's a regular kid, relatable to any kid who feels different. The trouble in Jam's world comes not from her identity but from the fact that the adults of her town are steeped in denial about what's going on in the world. They've forgotten that ordinary humans can be monsters. Jam partners with a supernatural creature that helps her hunt the monster in their midst and that counsels her not to be afraid.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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