Today I am marking off my tenth #10 checkpoint category for the POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE 2020 with:
Ever since the witch cursed Babs, she turns invisible sometimes. She has her mum and her dog, but teachers and classmates barely notice her. Then, one day, Iris can see her. And Iris likes what they see. Babs is made of fire.
Iris grew from a seed in the ground. They have friends, but not human ones. Not until they meet Babs. The two of them have a lot in common: they speak to dryads and faeries, and they’re connected to the magic that’s all around them.
There’s a new boy at school, a boy who’s like them and who hasn’t yet found his real name. Soon the three of them are hanging out and trying spellwork together. Magic can be dangerous, though. Witches and fae can be cruel. Something is happening in the other realm, and despite being warned to stay away, the three friends have to figure out how to deal with it on their own terms.
‘That’s how I might feel about gender, now. It’s upsetting when people misgender me, but it’s exhausting to get upset about it every time. I’m not sure I can do it anymore.’
Euphoria Kids is the latest novel by Australian author Alison Evans. Euphoria Kids is a story of mystical proportions, that explores identity, belonging, connections and friendship, with a magical overlay. This young adult offering is an embracing tale, that will strike a chord with a variety of readers.
Euphoria Kids is the remarkable tale of three different souls, who all cross the bridge to connection and understanding. For Babs, her cursed life has resulted in long standing feelings of isolation and disconnection. Babs feels as though she has been largely ignored by the school community. Life changes for Babs when Iris steps into her life and begins to see Babs for who she truly is. Iris herself is another lost soul, who lacks any true human connections in her life. With Iris’ unique affinity to the natural world and mother earth, together these two new friends navigate a world inhabited by magical figures. When a new student arrives at school, a boy with no name, a genuine bond is developed between this threesome. Together the group indulge in plenty of magic and spellwork. But evil still lurks in the background, threatening to overthrow their happy union. It will take the power of all three of these souls to overthrow the problems coming from the magical realm.
I haven’t read anything before by Alison Evans, but I have seen that she is very popular author, through my work on The Australian Women Writers Challenge. She seems to be leading the charge in the speculative fiction category, thanks to her highly applauded books Ida and Highway Bodies. Her new novel, Euphoria Kids, is a story filled with rich fantasy, vivid imagery and strong metaphors. It underscored by the unique and individual prose utilised by Alison Evans.
I was drawn to Euphoria Kids as I was in need of a book that was written by a trans or non-binary author for the 2020 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge. A thorough look at my existing bookshelves revealed that unfortunately my book selection did not carry a trans or a non-binary author. Consequently, I went on to source a copy of Euphoria Kids from my local bookstore. Alison Evans is quite the campaigner for the gender queer community. In an article I came across published by The Saturday Paper in 2018, Alison Evans states,”By writing non-binary characters and being a non-binary author, all I really want is to increase visibility and understanding.” I think Evans has achieved this and more thanks to her growing collection of novels, including her latest contribution, Euphoria Kids. Evans is working hard to give a voice to and tell the stories of this community and in turn, Evans is building the presence of readers who identify within this identity.
Euphoria Kids contains three diverse characters, in Babs, Iris and the new boy – a character who has no name. These characters are a clear reflection of the trans, gender queer and non-binary identities. Euphoria Kids is sensitive and insightful, but it also represents a spellbinding portrayal of those who are part of this colourful community. Thrown in the mix are an eclectic mix of supporting cast and non-human characters, such as faeries and dryads. I had not come across dryads prior to this novel, so Euphoria Kids was quite an informative read for me personally. I also had to open myself up to the mystical world, as the characters flit in and out of another magical realm. Those who enjoy fantasy and speculative fiction novels will be sure to appreciate the direction this novel takes.
I definitely feel much more aware of what the construct of non-binary, trans and gender queer means in terms of the literature and the stories we are building in this area. I definitely valued the author’s direction with Euphoria Kids, despite the fact that I struggled with the magical elements of the text, but the important metaphors included in this novel makes it a vital read for young people today. Despite the references to misunderstanding, isolation and frustration, Euphoria Kids is a hopeful text, that will work wonders to break down any barriers and misconceptions about gender fluidity. I do hope to see more stories released in this field in the near future.
*** 3.5 stars
Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans was published on February 4th 2020 by Echo Publishing. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Euphoria Kids, Alison Evans, visit here.
Euphoria Kids is book #34 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge