Into the Light by Mark Oshiro: Beautiful and Compelling

It’s been one year since Manny was cast out of his family and driven into the wilderness of the American Southwest. Since then, Manny lives by self-taught rules that keep him moving―and keep him alive. Now, he’s taking a chance on a traveling situation with the Varela family, whose attractive but surly son, Carlos, seems to promise a new future.

Eli abides by the rules of his family, living in a secluded community that raised him to believe his obedience will be rewarded. But an unsettling question slowly eats away at Eli’s once unwavering faith in Reconciliation: Why can’t he remember his past?

But the reported discovery of an unidentified body in the hills of Idyllwild, California, will draw both of these young men into facing their biggest fears and confronting their own identity―and who they are allowed to be.

“Into the Light” by Mark Oshiro is simply one of the most beautiful and compelling novels I have read. The beginning of the novel wraps its fingers around your throat and pulls you in until the final words. The story is riveting and the connections are authentic. The character of Manny, like so many real individuals like him, will break your heart. The abuse of these children at the hands of conversion camps and those like them is very real and this novel puts all of that reality into perspective. 

Even though the novel is realistic and eye opening, especially if you aren’t familiar with places of this ilk, the fictional story is still hopeful and loving. The twist in the narrative is unexpected and incredible. And that hope is much needed today, given the relevancy of events going on today with LGBTQ teenagers. If you love stories that are relevant, that are beautiful and compelling, I highly recommend this novel. It is an intriguing concept and also a timely story that will open your eyes and give you a fictional character to empathize with when you hear about places like the one in this novel. Maybe, just maybe, it will give hope to young people like the ones in this novel. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 homeless teens.

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