Hey guys! As promised today for Spotlight Sunday: Diversity Recs I'm talking about the wonderful Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller! I'll admit I haven't finished it yet but I absolutely love it so far, and the thing I love most about it is it's wonderful diversity, specifically our amazing main character, Sal!
Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class and the nobles who destroyed their home.
When Sal Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen's personal assassins named for the rings she wears -- Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal -- their world changes. They know it's a chance for a new life.
Except the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.
Now I'll say first that I can only speak on my own behalf, so if anything I say does have any disparity or ring untrue for anyone, please do let me know. My intention here is only to spotlight some amazingly diverse books we have in the YA genre right now.
So Mask of Shadows is of course a fantasy, and a wonderful one at that, but what makes this story so different and so unique is that the main character, Sal, is Gender Fluid. Although told in the first person, Sal is addressed using they/them pronouns. Gender Fluidity is something that I have honestly never seen/read before in the YA genre, and I think it's a part of the Gender and Sexuality spectrums that is rarely addressed. To see what I am led to believe (By other reviewers/readers and the author's comments herself) is wonderful, accurate representation of Gender Fluidity in this YA novel is incredible.
People in general, but teens especially, can have a hard time coping with who they truly are in this modern age, and to have a diverse reading scope is truly a marvellous tool to help with the struggle. But in order for reading to be an effective way of understanding ourselves, we need to be able to see the entirety of the world we live in, the entirety of ourselves, and for that everyone and every aspect should be represented well and in abundance. Of course there's no one book that suits everyone/every aspect (As author Adam Silvera has recently been pointing out on Twitter) but we still have so much work to be done in creating a truly diverse YA genre. Mask of Shadows is 100% helping with and working towards that goal.
As I say I am talking on my own behalf, as someone who does not identify as Gender Fluid, but that doesn't mean I can't both enjoy and learn from Sal's story. In this modern age where Gender Normality still reigns supreme, I do often struggle with Gender Norms and my disinterest in fitting to those norms. Gender Queer is probably more suited to me personally but even then I'm still working out where exactly I could belong on what is such a wide, vast spectrum. But to find even this one instance of Non-Normative Gender Rep is incredible, and it really is such an important read for everyone, but specifically anyone who does identify as Gender Fluid. You deserve the world, and not to mention the fact that Sal is 100% kick ass; as far as book characters go, they rock!
Have you read Mask of Shadows? What do you think? As always feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!
Thanks for reading!