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Crosshairs ❰EPUB❯ ✰ Crosshairs Author Catherine Hernandez – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk The author of the acclaimed novel Scarborough weaves an unforgettable and timely dystopian tale about a nearfuture, where a queer Black performer and his allies join forces to rise up when an oppressi The author of the acclaimed novel Scarborough weaves an unforgettable and timely dystopian tale about a nearfuture, where a queer Black performer and his allies join forces to rise up when an oppressive regime gathers those deemed “Other” into concentration campsSet in a terrifyingly familiar nearfuture, with massive floods leading to rampant homelessness and devastation, a governmentsanctioned regime called The Boots seizes on the opportunity to round up communities of color, the disabled, and the LGBTQ into labor camps In the shadows, a new hero emerges After he loses his livelihood as a drag queen and the love of his life, Kay joins the resistance alongside Bahadur, a transmasculine refugee, and Firuzeh, a headstrong social worker Guiding them in the use of weapons and closequarters combat is Beck, a rogue army officer, who helps them plan an uprising at a major televised international event With her signature “raw yet beautiful, disturbing yet hopeful” Booklist prose, Catherine Hernandez creates a vision of the future that is all the frightening because it is very possible A cautionary tale filled with fierce and vibrant characters, Crosshairs explores the universal desire to thrive, love, and be loved for being your true self.

10 thoughts on “Crosshairs

  1. Shealea Shealea says:

    I hope to someday write a more eloquent & more thoughtful review, but here are my preliminary thoughts:

    Set in dystopian Canada, we follow a queer femme drag performer who is Jamaican Filipino. Massive floods brought upon by environmental degradation left the majority of the population homeless, jobless, and starving. And some powerful white man seizes the opportunity to herald an oppressive regime where Others (i.e. marginalized groups) are sent to labor camps in the service of True Canadians.

    While this book dauntlessly takes on the oppression faced by many marginalized groups (e.g. POC and Indigenous, Muslims, queers, people with disabilities), there is definitely a heavy concentration on race, and specifically, Blackness. And I'll admit that I felt uncomfortable about the intense exploration of Blackness when the author is a non-Black person of color. I truly, wholeheartedly believe that this is outside of her lane and that the author should have written a main character who is more reflective of her identity.

    At the same time, however, I don't want to completely dismiss the merits of this book. I *do* think that Crosshairs is a good book and that the story it tells is timely, important, and above all, frightening because of the many parallels between this dystopian society and the world we currently live in. Considering the state of politics in my own country and in many countries around the world, it isn't too hard to imagine a world where labor camps are reintroduced, people below the poverty line are killed without much thought, and people of color suffer the brunt of the discrimination.

    Here are the things that I liked about this book:

    📌 The exploration of culture and dynamics within Filipino communities is limited, but I did really appreciate the acknowledgment of anti-Blackness within our culture and among our people. There is a lot of anti-Black sentiments within many Asian cultures, and Filipinos are not an exception to this wrongness.

    📌 The portrayal of and emphasis on intersectionality!!! One of the most powerful messages that Crosshairs repeats throughout its story is the safety net white queers have that are unavailable to queer people of color. In this fascist regime, white queers have the privilege to stay closeted in order to protect themselves from harm, whereas queer people of color do not have the liberty to change, erase, or hide their skin color. This leaves the latter as the most vulnerable to state-sanctioned violence. As I mentioned earlier, this book heavily concentrates on racism, and to reduce Crosshairs to a story about queer resilience is a complete dismissal of its major message.

    📌 The way unlearning and true allyship are portrayed in this book is at times heavy-handed, but ultimately, brutally frank and realistic. I particularly appreciated the emphasis of needing to unlearn every single day.

    📌 The drag scenes! And the friendships between and among the drag performers.

    📌 I liked that this was not set in the United States because that seems to be the go-to setting of most dystopian civilizations (although the United States is also involved in introducing and maintaining this fascist regime).

    📌 In line with this, this book challenges the popular notion of Canada being a paradise that's free of discrimination and prejudice. I particularly liked how it brought attention to the issues faced by Indigenous peoples.

    📌 The use of sensitivity readers.* According to the author's acknowledgments, she assembled a team of artist colleagues who represent various community including Disabled, Black, Brown, Indigenous, Muslim, Queer, Trans, and Deaf-identified folks.

    * While this does not necessarily guarantee authentic representation, it does alleviate some of my discomforts. However, it is not my place to discern whether these measures are enough or whether the final outcome is respectful to other marginalized groups, especially to the Black community. Although the main character is part-Filipino, I do not consider myself an #ownvoices reviewer for Crosshairs because Kay makes it clear that she considers herself to be more Black than Filipino. I will, in turn, contact the publisher and request that they give advanced reading copies into the hands of #ownvoices Black reviewers. (I'll definitely link #ownvoices reviews here once I find any.)

    With all that said, if you do consider giving this novel a try, I highly encourage you to check out the content and trigger warnings (see below) and to ensure that you're in the right headspace before diving in.

    Recommended with caution.

    Content warnings:
    (view spoiler)[prejudice, violence, systemic oppression, and microaggressions targeted towards all marginalized groups; labor camps; deadnaming; use of racial and lgbtq+ slurs (including references to the N word without spelling it out); forced sterilization (off-page); pedophilia and sexual exploitation of a child; loss of loved ones; torture; depictions of grief (hide spoiler)]

  2. Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell says:

    This sounds like an incredibly difficult read but oh my god the premise could not be more timely

    I WANT

  3. Carolyn Klassen Carolyn Klassen says:

    I often feel inadequate with writing reviews, but especially with this one. Please go easy on my mush brain and understand how precious and important this title is to me, to queer folx, to the most marginalized and vulnerable in Canadian society.

    Crosshairs is everything that LGBTQIA+ people fear and everything we hope for. This dystopian Canada felt close to home and uncomfortably possible. Labour camps, degradation and dehumanization, mass murder of BIPOC and queer folx. But also some examples of systemic oppression with which we're already familiar. Forced sterilization of Indigenous women, denial of treaty rights and hereditary land stewardship authority, racism within the queer community, anti-Blackness within white and non-white PoC communities. These things do happen, these things that should belong only in a dystopian novel. These things that happen all the time but should be unimaginable. It's a world that represents a nightmare for me and a dream for politicians like Mike Pence and Maxime Bernier. Consider trigger warnings of child molestation, murder, enslavement, hate crimes and slurs against racial and religious minorities and LGBTQIA+ folx, etc before picking this up. Every kind of abuse of power at the expense of those most vulnerable due to marginalization and systemic structural violence. We know their rhetoric already. Keep an eye out for lazy immigrants who take away opportunities for the true Canadians. Can't you just hear your dad/grandpa/boss/neighbour/political candidate saying those words? A world where this sentiment, this fear and hatred of the Other, is manifested into very real horrors for those deemed abnormal.

    Yet this vision of rich diversity, agency, and powerful allyship represented is what we dream of. White queers and straight allies acknowledging their privilege in a world that hones in on visible difference first. Their privilege of passing as 'acceptable' in a dangerous world, yet still these characters rise to the occasion and defend their brothers and sisters without expectation of recognition. There are some powerful lines I will repeat to myself, their mantra of active allyship without performance or virtue signaling. BIPOC queer folx fighting back against oppressors who want to stomp them into the ground.

    Crosshairs is a book that champions and celebrates many kinds of intersectional diversity in the land known now as Canada. Indigenous, Black, South Asian, gay, lesbian, trans, queer, Muslim, (dis)abled, introvert, drag queen. A rainbow mosaic of beauty and love. I don't think I can coherently say how good it felt (despite the horrors of the Renovation and the trauma experienced by the characters) to read a book that was so confidently, naturally, jubilantly intersectional of every kind. If you can stomach the subject matter, this is not to be missed. A warning, yes. A book with horrific violence and foreboding images of a possible future. But also a love letter, a coming-out, a memorial, a celebration. Every kind of amazing.

  4. Kimba Tichenor Kimba Tichenor says:

    A cautionary tale set in the near future in Toronto, Canada, this novel draws on contemporary politics to remind us of the fragility of freedom, that is, how quickly the rhetoric of othering can cross the line into actions of othering. A powerful far-right group in Toronto uses a climate catastrophe as the pretext for establishing work settlements for “The Others,” that is the disabled, people of colour, and members of the LGBTQ2S community, that in reality are extermination camps. The novel is at its best when it is looking back in time to that moment when so many, including those the government will label “Other,” failed to heed the warning signs of a fast encroaching fascist regime, because they are either too wrapped up in the everyday struggle to survive or too committed to denial that they ignored what was happening around them. As Queen Kay, a queer black performer, who first must hide and then learn how to fight back, recalls: “We shrugged our shoulders each time a restaurant refused us service, delightfully held hands and tried our luck elsewhere. We wove through countless protest marches and political demonstrations to catch a movie, only to be told in not so many words that we were no longer allowed in such spaces, so we would shrug our shoulders again, head home, and make love.” Like so many, Queen Kay did not see the danger until it was too late, until she was forced into hiding, until she had to find within herself once again the belief that she deserved to live, because the government with each humiliation stole her hard-won identity and self-esteem. This was not the first time that Queen Kay had experienced devastating humiliation and torture; the first time was at the hands of her mother and the religious community that she had joined: “My mother, my own mother, filled a glass with water from the tap. My own mother did not look at me as the zip-tied my hands behind the chair, poked and prodded me. My own mother shut her face off, shut her body off…” as they threw holy water in his face and screamed at him to repent.” It is a subtle reminder of the ambiguous line that separates perpetrator from bystander from victim. For his mother who once victimized him also belongs to the world of the Others that the provincial government is now systematically exploiting and killing. Similarly, while the race dimension is front and centre in this story of repression and genocide, we see how the categories that separate “Other” from so-called true Canadian is both porous and arbitrary. The reader sees the female “Boot” officer who is in fact of Iranian heritage, who hides behind the uniform while persecuting others of her same heritage. We see how poor whites, although seemingly safe from the government’s campaign of genocide, are in fact just one step away from being othered as well. We see this when we discover Beck’s elderly parents living on a farm where the animals are all dead and there is no fresh water to be had. Their skin colour only gives them a limited amount of protection for this genocidal campaign is also a class war, in which the rich succeed in exploiting the poor whites by championing racism, xenophobia, and homophobia. There were times in this novel when I thought that the author should have made these themes more explicit. But after much thought I realized that the subtlety with which they are presented is what makes this seemingly fantastical dystopian novel so powerful and eerily realistic. If they were more explicit, their ability to lure so many of us into a false sense of security would not be so great.

    I would like to thank the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  5. Mia | The Bookish Feminist Mia | The Bookish Feminist says:

    CW: transphobia, homophobia, assault.

    CROSSHAIRS floored me. Catherine Hernandez is a brilliant and powerful writer who brings this dystopian society to life. It follows Kay, a Black drag queen who’s on the run after the extremist faction of government in the lands currently known as Toronto and Canada have put their racist, discriminatory, fascist beliefs into law. Kay has been on the run for months, hiding out with his friend, Liv, who’s part of the Resistance. Kay eventually has to run again, after Liv informs him that Toronto isn’t safe, and he gets picked up by a white Resistance member named Beck. Along the way, we also meet Bahadur and countless other Brown, Black, and queer folks who have been on the run and are fighting back against this oppressive regime taking over taking over the world.

    There are some hefty trigger warnings for this, but Hernandez is an important voice and tells these stories respectfully and with the fire that they deserve. She addresses labor issues, capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, the hatred of “Others” that we are all too familiar with in 2020. She brings up Indigenous identity alongside Black and queer characters, and the true intersectionality of this book is a work of art in and of itself. I suppose sometimes it’s a bit obvious that she’s trying to be intentionally inclusive and diverse, but to be honest I think that’s what it takes in literature. We need to be blatant and intentional with who’s getting portrayed in texts so we normalize inclusivity and intersectionality, so I not only understand why Hernandez does this, I think it works and illustrates her message perfectly.

    Now, plot wise, I wouldn’t say there’s anything completely unexpected. The dystopian world Hernandez creates has workhouses (read: concentration camps), a segment of extremists who are limiting the rights and ending lives of “Others,” another segment of the population - comprised of Others and allies - who’s revolting against the oppression. It doesn’t necessarily have any characteristics we haven’t seen before in other dystopian novels, with the glaring and fundamental exception of the truly inclusive nature of this story and its characters. But the fact that this world doesn’t feel surprising is actually one of the most remarkable things about Hernandez’ skill as a writer: she has successfully extrapolated our current situations - human rights abuses, political power and greed of the wealthy and corporations, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic policies and people - to dystopian Toronto, and it feels eerily close to what we could all imagine happening if we don’t do something.

    CROSSHAIRS compels us to sit in whatever privilege we might have, listen to other voices, reflect on our role in perpetuating oppressive systems and what people not from our own communities are saying and experiencing, and then act. Avoiding the realities portrayed in CROSSHAIRS will take an act of revolution, and Hernandez doesn’t just bring that revolution to life for us - it feels like she’s making a prediction for us.

    Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy.

  6. Casey the Reader Casey the Reader says:

    Thanks to Atria Books for the free advance copy of this book. Review to come.

  7. Liz Liz says:

    Crosshairs is a startling, riveting dystopian novel that exposes just how closely our world aligns with the fascist regime depicted in this story. I was thoroughly riveted by this book, and the story is heart-pounding and compelling throughout. Some parts of the book/dialogue was a bit heavy-handed, but they were extremely informative and I learned from them. I also found the ending to be a bit abrupt, but still inspiring. Overall, this is a thrilling dystopian novel that carries an important message that must be heard.

    CW for: transphobia, racial & lgbtq+ slurs, systemic violence and oppression, hate crimes, genocide, deadnaming, sterilization, pedophilia, torture, loss of loved ones, depictions of grief. Crosshairs is a worthwhile read, but tread lightly if you have similar experiences to the characters and their stories.

    *I received a digital ARC from Atria Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

  8. Nate Nate says:

    Another sorry tale from Hernandez

    Hernandez' Scarborough pressed every SJW button: oppressed minority characters, check; bad (usually white) people, check; all minority characters are saintly, check. What happens with Scarborough is that the book suffers from the very stereotyping that Hernandez rails against. The characters are merely cardboard cutouts by which to ruminate on oppression rather than to do anything about it. The blame-game gets really stale really fast.

    And this book follows suit. Right from the outset where the main character identifies themself as a queer, femme Jamaican-Filipino man. Okay, it's good to have under-represented groups as heroic. But we're not in for a story; we're in for a lesson about the rightness of identity politics, because identity politics is where it's at. One or two oppressed categories won't do; you need more. Hernandez gives us a four-fer with Kay.

    But what is immediately risible about this, beyond the box-checking, is the next line describing Kay: Anne Frank, minus the diary. That Hernandez uses Frank as a joke, sombreness notwithstanding, is cause enough for dismay. That her fictional creation might somehow parallel a young woman who was ruthlessly murdered along with six million others is simply contemptible. But of course, this is Hernandez's dystopia, so she might as well borrow gravitas from real life since her book can't earn it on its own. (And just in case you didn't get the Holocaust connection, a character soon chimes in with Through our work, our nation prospers. O shades of Arbeit macht frei.)

    Next up: bad people. In a really expository and stagey set-up, we get the why of it, mouthed by Khalil, who is evidently not who he is (on a podcast) but, a Bad Person because he is white and Christian. The narrator can't see Khalil but somehow knows. Bad Khalil! It appears that Hernandez draws upon the white Christian evangelicals that are so common in the US (and are most often Trump supporters), and indeed they're fair game. But to stereotype other people in the same way your protagonists have been stereotyped is a zero-sum game. It's a race to the bottom to see who is most oppressed so that those people can claim a moral high ground. This is the outcome of any identity politics, anti-racist or not. Such politics seek not to create an equitable world but to turn the tables.

    We then find out that Kay is also a drag queen. (A five-fer!) They have a friend whose dog is named Sedgewick. Get it? Get it? Eve Sedgwick, one of the foremost theorists of queerness. And so on. And on and on.

    The biggest joke? The Canadian government has turned into a dictatorship. Really! The Canadian government! I laughed. The American government, yes -- and Atwood handled that really well in The Handmaid's Tale. But Canada? No. Uh uh. Ain't gonna happen. Yes, rights are fragile things, and I suppose that Hernandez wants to drive home the point that it could happen in Canada. (Canada's record on its treatment of Indigenous peoples, and people of colour, is horrible.) But the trajectory of the Canadian nation, in terms of general rights for minorities has been progressive and remains so.

    As in her earlier book, to be noble in Hernandez' world means to be Black or Muslim or trans. And I'm not listing these to make fun of them; these people have suffered bigotry, and still do. But Hernandez actually enumerates her characters in this fashion, as they are merely cardboard cutouts paraded across the stage in order to display their oppression. The irony is that Hernandez robs them of their humanity. How can you be even fictively human when all you are, in the fiction, is a trope? The stereotyping is endlessly fraught.

    The book is someone's wet fantasy about how to speak from oppression and little else. Does racism exist on Turtle Island? It certainly does. Is enough being done about it, especially the TRC? No, not even close. Rights are fragile things at the best of times, and equity is a serious issue that needs dire attention.

    But wasting time reading books like this won't advance anyone's agenda. The book's real sin is in its smugness, a self-satisfaction underscored by its corrosive identitarian certainties.

    You want to read an interesting book about people of colour in Toronto? Pick up Nola Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring. Or even Dionne Brand's What We All Long For. Or anything by Gwen Benaway. Or David Chariandy. Or Carrianne Leung. Didier LeClair's wonderful This Country of Mine. Rabindranath Maharaj's delightful piqaresque The Amazing Absorbing Boy. Anything but this.

  9. Marin Marin says:

    Where do I even begin with “Crosshairs,” one of the most unique, troubling, and timely dystopian novels I have ever read? This novel is a love letter to queer culture and wake-up call for white cisgender folks. This novel will make you. check. your. privilege. “Crosshairs” is set in the not too distant future, in which the environmental crisis has caused rampant flooding across Canada and Toronto, causing homelessness and mass devastation. Meanwhile, Canada’s government has moved to the far right, aligning with a corporate force “The Boots” to round-up people of colour, the disabled, and queer folks into government-sanctioned labour camps. The descent into oppression is subtle, incremental, and finally outright violent. Drag queen Kay is in hiding, and quickly finds their way into the resistance, discovering other marginalized folks and allies along the way. This book is so wonderfully written. Hernandez is an amazing writer, lyrical and sharp and in your face. I loved the story and I loved the ending but omg, I want more (I need to know what happens: does the uprising work?!) Given the state of the world right now, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. It’s easy to read something like this and dismiss it as mere fiction but this kind of shit already. fucking. happens. And not just in the U.S, although Canadians love to pretend that’s the case. This kind of hatred, bigotry, willful ignorance, and ability to marginalize, torment, other, and enact violence is woven into the very fabric of this white settler-colonial nation we call Canada. Anything that happens in this book is tough and shocking, but it’s based on what has come before and what COULD happen if white folks don’t wake the fuck up and begin to do THE WORK. This is one of the best and more important Canadian novels I have read in years. Please read it.

  10. Oiza Cavallari Oiza Cavallari says:

    It was clear as day what we marched for. We marched because we deserved to live”⁣⁣
    Trigger warnings: ⁣⁣
    Labor Camps⁣⁣
    Homophobia ⁣⁣
    Racial and LGBT+ slurs,⁣⁣
    Sexual Assault,⁣⁣
    Systemic Oppression by marginalized groups..... ⁣⁣
    Set in a terrifyingly dystopian near-future Canada (Toronto), with massive floods leading to rampant homelessness and devastation, a government-sanctioned regime called The Boots seizes on the opportunity to round up communities of color, the disabled, and the LGBTQ+ into labor camps.⁣⁣
    Catherine Hernandez (the author of Scarborough) weaves an unforgettable and timely dystopian raw tale about a near-future, where a queer Black performer and his allies join forces to rise up when an oppressive regime gathers those deemed “Other” into concentration camps.⁣⁣
    This was a fierce read, uncomfortable at times for a reader but an important read considering some countries in regards to politics and the LGBTQIA community.⁣⁣
    Loved the drag culture and depictions mentioned in the book, the resistance shown by the LGBTQ+ community, the allyship and flashbacks leading up to the revolution.⁣⁣
    Mark your calendar for December 08 2020 and THANK YOU to @atriabooks for the gifted eARC.

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