Author: Oshiro, Mark
Twelve-year-old Hector Munoz, fleeing from bullies, discovers a magical closet that not only provides him sanctuary, but also unites him with two other kids facing similar problems at their own schools, helping them find friendship and strength in each other.
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 09/01/2021 Gr 4–6— Oshiro's middle grade debut follows a young Latinx boy, Héctor Muños, as he starts a new school in an unfamiliar town. Back in San Francisco, Héctor's personality, style, and sexuality weren't an issue with his classmates. In Orangevale, however, Héctor, who is gay, quickly becomes the victim of a particularly aggressive bully. Luckily for Héctor, a magical door appears exactly when he needs it most. Héctor discovers a secret room that caters to his needs and comfort. On subsequent visits to the room he discovers that two other tweens are also there: Juliana, who is Black and Chinese, and Sal, who is white and Filipino and uses they/them pronouns. Héctor, Juliana, and Sal all have deeply personal problems to solve, and while the mysterious room is never fully explained, it's clear that it exists to bring the tweens together—across time and space—to learn from and help one another. Oshiro uses a diverse cast to demonstrate many positive ideals regarding race, family, friendship, gender, and sexuality. While the ending is a bit pat, the overall themes of love and acceptance are bright and encouraging—readers will wish they had a mystical door to spirit them away from their troubles. VERDICT Many readers will find resonance in this magical tale. Recommended as a general purchase.—Taylor Worley, Springfield P.L., OR - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 09/01/2021 A 12-year-old theater nerd, Mexican American Héctor feels like an outsider at his new school upon discovering that it doesn’t have a drama club. Things take a turn for the worse when he finds an enemy in Mike, for when Hector makes the mistake of admitting he is gay, Mike and his two minions become his worst nightmare, bullying him mercilessly. Héctor finds sanctuary in a most unusual place: a janitor’s closet. Incredibly, it proves to be a magic closet which opens into a spacious room that offers him sanctuary and in which he discovers two other needy kids like him: Sal, who is nonbinary with white and Filipino parents, and Juliana, who is gay and also biracial (Black and Chinese). The room appears to know what they need and protects them, but outside, their problems are still waiting. Can they resolve them on their own? Oshiro (Each of Us a Desert, 2020) makes their middle-grade debut with this empowering novel, filled with knotty but relatable problems for its empathetic characters to solve. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.