In Catherine Hernandez’s book Crosshairs, Kay, the gay son of Filipino and Jamaican immigrants in Toronto is fighting to save himself from a fascist regime operated by a government-backed group called the Boots. Kay, along with “The Others,” must go into hiding. They hide their p
The scenes in this book mirror some events and headlines, both American and Canadian, witnessed in the last few years, such as supremacist & nationalist rallies. Though Crosshairs is a fictional dystopian view of the world, particularly Canada, it still offers a sense of fight. The characters come together in a civilian-led movement called the Resistance to stand up to the government. The others fighting back are citizens pushed to the edges of society, fighting totalitarianism and the oppressive push to become invisible.
In the story, Canada’s government is grappling with an attempt to control all those who go against the desired status quo. The government is slow at first but quickly develops into a strict and oppressive movement. While continuing to suffer under violent oppression, “Others” are placed in work camps where they face outright brutal injustice at the hands of those in charge. The Others represent marginalized communities, often members of intersectional groups, such as Queer, Black, indigenous, immigrants, differently-abled, and elderly citizens.
Crosshairs addresses systems of oppression worsened by state-sanctioned violence and an environmental disaster in the form of massive flooding. The author’s passion for the inclusion of diverse voices came through loud and clear. Additionally, Hernandez does a fantastic job of addressing Ally Worship when Beck’s mother, Hanna, continuously cries out about being a good person yet does nothing to help people in trouble.
The characters are well fleshed out but leave readers wanting more of their stories. The plot flows well and intertwines the characters’ histories as the story continues, like when readers learn how Kay got introduced to the Art of Drag. There are a few occasions of minor confusion with introductions of new persons, but Hernandez does an excellent job explaining their roles as the story moves along.
The author creates a sense of hope among those beaten and cast aside in Crosshairs. Readers will want to fight alongside them. The story is a bit graphic, covering many challenging topics like sexual assault, elder abuse, anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments, but fighting oppression is never a pretty sight. The book provides a horrifying vision of what can happen when people look the other way in the face of pressure. However, the novel does offer a sense of community to those forced out of the heteronormative roles.
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