Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

petThe town of Lucille is essentially a utopia. Its older citizens have done some hard, difficult work. Justice is restorative, not punitive. There’s a deep sense of community, of caring for each other as if they’re all family, of getting to the root of problems and working them out. The community emphasizes free access to knowledge and the importance of public spaces like libraries. But Lucille is also a reminder that when we think we’ve figured things out, we must stay vigilant; complacency makes us unable and/or unwilling to acknowledge that injustices continue to occur.

The characters in Pet are wonderfully diverse without their diversity being a plot point. And Jam and Redemption’s friendship is the most loving, beautifully written friendship I’ve read to date.

With its powerful storyline and its emotional final scenes, Pet addresses the cynicism that can creep in and exhaust people who care about social justice, offering discernment and a clear-sighted sense of hope instead.