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Hurricane Child

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Caroline Murphy is a Hurricane Child.

Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and 12-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She's hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won't stop following her, and—worst of all—Caroline's mother left home one day and never came back.

But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline's luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline's first and only friend—and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush.

Now, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline's missing mother—before Caroline loses her forever.

214 pages, Hardcover

First published March 27, 2018

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About the author

Kacen Callender

13 books2,041 followers
Kacen Callender is a Saint Thomian author of children's fiction and fantasy, best known for their Stonewall Book Award and Lambda Literary Award-winning middle grade debut Hurricane Child. Their fantasy novel, Queen of the Conquered, is the 2020 winner of the World Fantasy Award and King and the Dragonflies won the 2020 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

Callender is Black, queer, trans, and uses they/them and he/him pronouns. Callender debuted their new name when announcing their next young adult novel Felix Ever After in May 2019.

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5 stars
907 (23%)
4 stars
1,540 (40%)
3 stars
1,129 (29%)
2 stars
216 (5%)
1 star
48 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 819 reviews
Profile Image for Zoë.
328 reviews66.2k followers
January 5, 2021
[Book #7 for my grad school Children's Lit class]
Profile Image for jv poore.
612 reviews204 followers
February 4, 2022
Sometimes I’m stunned by how hard a Middle Grade book can hit me. Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender serves as a stellar example.

Caroline is complex, particularly for an adolescent island-girl. She is carrying a bunch of baggage, and has no one to help with the load.

Years ago, an emptiness began to eat at her. Her mother inexplicably abandoned Caroline and her father. With her dad working all the time, and avoiding her questions when he was around, a frustration began to build and threaten to fill her completely. Nothing but negative emotions and absolutely not a soul to share with, Caroline was always angry and so very alone.

Until she meets Kalinda.

New students are rare in the tiny St. Thomas school, but Kalinda seems to handle being the center of attention easily. Caroline is immediately attracted to her confidence and poise and she quickly decides to befriend this intriguing young lady. As soon as possible.

Here, Ms. Callender considers the pseudo-taboo subject of sexuality. Simultaneously showing two sides of the same coin provides perspective and allows the reader to experience differing mind-sets, neutrally. The reason for her mother’s departure keeps me contemplative and has me considering various points-of-view.

Caroline’s stubborn and defiant actions almost over-ride the seriousness of some situations, making the punch a bit more surprising, thus proving to be more painful. And I mean that in the best way possible.

This review was written by jv poore for Buried Under Books.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.3k followers
March 3, 2020
3.5 stars. Wasn't bad by any means, but the story as a whole was a little bit all over the place and I struggled to follow it at times.
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
569 reviews3,946 followers
July 16, 2021
Así como la primera mitad del libro me encantó por esa ambientación en el Caribe, esos espíritus misteriosos y su protagonista solitaria, me decepcionó bastante con el apresurado desenlace de todas las tramas.
Es una pena porque estaba disfrutando mucho de la lectura, pero por un lado el romance apresurado, por otra la resolución del tema familiar que me resultó difícil de creer y finalmente la poca importancia de la parte fantástica hace que el libro se quede (para mi) en algo entretenido pero nada más.
Eso sí, para niños de 10 a 14 años me parece una gran opción.
Profile Image for CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian.
1,134 reviews1,397 followers
June 23, 2018
What an amazing, complex, moving portrayal of a young queer black girl from Water Island in the Caribbean. Caroline's story is about grief, love, family, queer crushes, bullying, shadism, (internalized) homophobia, and friendship. It has a lovely poetic, magical realism to it. It felt very authentic to a twelve year old's world while is dealt with 'adult' issues but never simplified or talked down. This book was a wonderful reminder of how deeply children feel.
February 4, 2023

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When I saw that HURRICANE CHILD was on sale for an incredibly affordable seventy-five cents in the Kindle store, I was all over that like white on rice. Especially since it's written by Kacen Callender, one of my favorite YA authors. They always write about dark and serious issues, but they do it with heart and nuance, so I never feel like I'm being lectured at or pandered to: they allow the characters to tell their own stories simply by dint of being themselves.

HURRICANE CHILD is the story of a young girl named Caroline, who lives on Water Island, one of the Virgin Islands, a mere boat away from Saint Thomas (which I believe is where the author comes from). She was born during a hurricane, which according to island superstition means a lifetime of bad luck and no happiness. Right now, for her, it feels like it's true. Her mother disappeared when she was young, she's bullied at school for being willful and having dark skin by students and faculty alike, and she's filled with an anger that seems to come from feeling very, very depressed.

That changes when they get a new girl on the island from Barbados. Like Caroline, she has dark skin and natural hair, but Kalinda also has a confidence and a charisma that Caroline does not, and when she shuts down a first attempt to bully her by the Queen Bee herself, she ends up skyrocketing in popularity. Caroline is fascinated by Kalinda and wants to be her friend, but she also feels more than that, too. It's a sort of fascination that moves beyond jealousy or obsession, into the sort of desires that can make you want someone to be a part of your life forever. The bond between the two girls shifts and changes as they take each other into their confidence and Kalinda becomes involved in the mystery of Caroline's disappearance, but honesty, like mystery, can sometimes open doors through which there is no turning back, no matter how much you regret what you find on the other side.

So I loved this book. The magic realism element is way more underplayed than I was expecting but I think it worked for the story. It actually makes me sad how many people were criticizing the heroine for being selfish and unlikable. Caroline actually reminded me a lot of the heroine in I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER, which shows how depression can manifest itself differently in different cultures, often taking the form of anger in places where it might not be acceptable to publicly show weakness or emotion. I felt like that was the case here. Caroline had a lot of emotional trauma and seemed to be sublimating it into anger, since that was a more acceptable and comfortable emotion for her to feel. I know some readers through this was too dark for MG but I honestly don't think it is, for the right readers. It captures the pure and innocent first crush from a LGBT+ perspective, just like how ANNIE ON MY MIND did, and it's not explicit. It's just sweet and bittersweet and kind of sad.

I also think that, like HOUSE ON MANGO STREET, the magical realism and fairytale like elements of the story allow the author to be vague about the darker subject matter. They do a really good job leaning back at the right times, and only giving enough information for what the story requires. I think HURRICANE CHILD was Kacen Callender's debut novel but it's just as good as their later works.

P.S. Since this was a debut, some copies have the author's dead name on the cover. Make sure you don't use it when talking about the work. The author goes by Kacen now and uses they/them pronouns.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for ONYX Pages.
50 reviews354 followers
February 17, 2019
Pure. Magical. Authentic.

Exactly what I needed... decades ago.

But, also now.

Profile Image for Andrew.
1,508 reviews83 followers
September 21, 2017
Vivid and poetic. I'd add it to my books that should be movies shelf, but a movie would not be able to do the prose justice. Reminded me a bit of When Marnie Was There. There is so much packed into this 200 page book, and yet no question goes unanswered by the time you've made the journey.
Profile Image for Sara.
589 reviews1 follower
October 2, 2018
This book was not for me. Not only were the main characters unlikable, but the themes in this story seemed much too heavy to be geared toward young readers (now, I know, depending on where children grow up and what their sexual orientation is, or what their home life is like, this story isn't any worse than what they've experienced, but the way this story is written doesn't seem like it would bring a reader in, especially a young reader. The writing style, to me, doesn't seem as if it were written for the age the main character is, but this is my opinion). I will just say that I don't know what kind of reader I would ever be able to recommend this book to, because the story is challenging, the narrative is a bit all over the place, and there is not much of a plot.

Caroline Murphy is a difficult narrator to follow. She is bullied in school, but she is also very moody and, despite her father being a generally positive presence in her life, she cannot seem to care or love him. She often says things like: "I am all alone in this world," or "I have no one," when she has her dad and I see no real reason for her to dislike him.

When a new girl comes to school from Barbados, she and Caroline become friends rather inexplicably. First, the girl only hangs out with the popular kids, while Caroline is shunned. Then, for some reason, she agrees to hang out with Caroline after school. After that, they are two peas in a pod. It's sudden, but then most of the events in this book happen suddenly and without much leading up to it. When Caroline and her new friend, Kalinda, go walking in town, they see two women holding hands. In St. Thomas, adults holding hands is a sign of homosexuality, and is viewed as disgusting, which Kalinda even says when they see them. It is in this moment that Caroline suddenly discovers that she is gay and that she in fact LOVES Kalinda and wants to marry her. They are twelve. This, to me, is a very strange and out of the blue development to the story, which, up until this point doesn't seem to have any plot. Most of the book up until this point has been a chronicaling of Caroline's very sad life being bullied in school and wanting to find her mom, who left years ago.

I think what bothered me most about this story was its lack of direction and its unlikable characters. The only major action that happens is in the last 1/4th of the story. The fact that Caroline confesses her love to Kalinda and that Kalinda suddenly reveals that is almost too much of a coincidence and these twelve year olds seem to think they have their life all figured out, down to imagining their married lives, and that seeing someone die is what makes you an adult, is both bizarre and an inexplicable plot point.

Another plot point that is never really answered is whether the spirit Caroline sees is real or not. I don't know whether the book contains a supernatural element or not. I cant even tell if Kalinda really can see the same spirit as Caroline or she's just pretending.It bothered me the whole time.

Once the story began to wrap up, all I felt was confused and that I wanted my time back. I read this book for a book club, or else I would a) most likely not have picked it up or b) would have put it down unfinished. I also listened to the audio book which, even if I were to recommend this story, I would not recommend listening to the audio. It is read by a woman with a heavy accent, who reads sentences almost like she doesn't know where the sentence will end up, and whose only way of differentiating between voices is to read Caroline's voice really loudly and everyone else very softly. This loud/soft thing coupled with her accent makes it really hard to understand what she is saying a good portion of the time. I would not recommend it to kids. I think they would get very frustrated. I understand the decision to have a reader who speaks with the accent that the characters would have, but it's too thick or else they just didn't consider their audience.

Anyways, not a fun read and too messy/all over the place for me.
Profile Image for Bogi Takács.
Author 53 books565 followers
April 28, 2019
Really enjoyed this Afro-Caribbean magical-realist MG novel, and it definitely has an older crossover audience allllll the way up to adult. Longer review soonish IY"H. F/F relationship and trans author! Also spirituality.

For adults I think it pairs really well with Craig Laurance Gidney's (upcoming) A Spectral Hue, and Akwaeke Emezi's Freshwater, I just read three of these books quasi-simultaneously and it was such a great experience.

I want to say more about all this but I want to post this quick post to squeeeeee. :)
Source of the book: Bought with my own money during the Kidlit for Christchurch auction. (Signed copy from the author - yay thank you!)
Profile Image for Irmak ☾.
232 reviews50 followers
February 20, 2022
it was okay.

not perfect but it's definitely an important middle-grade book.
Profile Image for Erin Entrada Kelly.
Author 30 books1,474 followers
October 29, 2020
This was the perfect MG novel. The plot was driven by compelling, three-dimensional characters. The story was infused with subtle magic and covert supernaturalness that felt organically woven into the world-building. The story never moved too quickly or too slowly. I loved Caroline. This was just an incredible book.
Profile Image for Kay.
220 reviews
July 5, 2018
#RWLChallenge: A book written by a trans or non-binary author of colour.

Full review forthcoming via Rebel Women Lit.
Profile Image for Rebel Women Lit.
22 reviews55 followers
March 28, 2018
There is a phrase in Kheryn Callender’s Hurricane Child that comes to mind when I think of this book, “exquisitely beautiful,” and truly, there are only a handful of alternative word combinations that can just as aptly describe this debut.

Callender’s handling of bullying, first loves, queer love and family is the kind of literature we want, no, *need* our kids to grow up on. The author expertly captures what it means to be a child of the Caribbean, highlighting experiences so universal among us that it left me smiling, giggling and flat out laughing. It’s interesting that the protagonist, Caroline, mentions Jamaica Kincaid and Tiphanie Yanique as some of her favourite authors, as we would immediately compare Hurricane Child to Kincaid’s Annie John. Callender’s writing is vivid and absorptive, so much so that one can describe it as palatable, and nothing short of a sensory overload. Their language and word choice gave me goose-bumps. This may be a book written with a middle-grade audience, but one clear standout is that not once does Callender condescend to their audience, choosing instead to address them writing to them as equals.

Caroline is a protagonist that readers will find extremely relatable, a child who is curious, awkward, vulnerable and mischievous. Not only is this a Black protagonist from the Caribbean (I’m forever hyped about this), but a Black, Queer protagonist from the Caribbean. Hurricane Child addresses all these intersectionalities, tackling internalized homophobia, religion, microaggressions, colourism and misogynoir. This is a book that deserves to be added to high school curricula as it will spark the kind of discussion that readers (particularly Caribbean readers) need to have. By sharing Hurricane Child with readers, Callender gives us a story that is full of hope and resolution; themes which we desperately need in middle-grade literature. We are excited about Callender’s debut, and can’t wait to see what they bring us next.

Thank you to Scholastic for sending us a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Hurricane Child Reviewed by Rebel Kaymara Barrett
Profile Image for sylas.
724 reviews54 followers
June 29, 2018
This book is SO GOOD. Wow. Wow! I loved everything about it. I want every kid to have access to it.

This is a middle grade book with excellent writing that deals with real issues in a complex way. It feels like the author really understands young people and trusts them to manage very complicated experiences with careful consideration and bravery. I loved the main character and the way she perceived and experienced the world. I loved the way queerness was talked about and felt. I loved the story so so much.

I can’t wait to see what this author does next. They have a YA novel coming in the fall. I feel prepared to be obsessed with them.

(SPL 2018 book bingo: by an author of color)
Profile Image for Dov Zeller.
Author 2 books104 followers
January 9, 2020
I'm trying my best to keep this unspoilerific so leaving some things a bit vague.

Beautiful beautiful beautiful book. Atmospheric, vivd, emotionally rich, profoundly complex, heart-breaking and joyful and heart breaking and joyful and heart breaking and joyful. There are no uncomplicated happy endings, but as far as queer books go, I'm glad the ending was as it was, brimming with hope. There is some homophobia. there is also queer love and complicated relationships and sweet adventures.

Profile Image for Camryn.
Author 5 books797 followers
April 4, 2018
This was a really beautiful book. It would've been great to read this when I was twelve, I think.
Profile Image for Fiebre Lectora.
1,868 reviews576 followers
August 12, 2020
La hija del huracán es una historia en la que se tratan temas fundamentales, como el amor, la diversidad sexual, racial y familiar, la soledad, o la depresión, y que desde luego llega a achucharte el corazón por toda la carga emocional que transmite. Es sencilla, pero a la vez, muy bonita.
Reseña completa: http://fiebrelectora.blogspot.com/202...
Profile Image for Sara.
358 reviews32 followers
December 11, 2017
Hurricane Child is a slow and beautiful story about a girl trying to navigate through her loneliness and the relationships in her life. I really felt I was on the Virgin Islands with the visceral descriptions of the sea and town, the way Caroline moves through her world is so confident and natural, but tinged with a slowness because of her grief. idk. Kalinda was such a good character and I loved her way of speaking her thoughts and how deep she was; the stuff she thought about reminded me of being a kid and how I thought of things when I was their age. I really liked the spiritual and romantic elements too.
Profile Image for Melanie.
Author 6 books204 followers
July 3, 2018
This gorgeous and heartfelt novel is not one to miss. I don't think I've ever read a setting so tangibly depicted. Everything about Caroline's reality comes soaring to life as you enter her world, and you won't want to leave until you find out what has happened to her mother. This one has earned a permanent spot on my shelf.
Profile Image for l.
1,669 reviews
September 15, 2018
I liked how it handled the journeys of all three characters: our lead (being a baby lesbian, feeling abandoned, being bullied); her best friend (internalized homophobia, dealing with peer pressure); and her mother (dealing with depression, and finding self fulfillment) and how each worked through their own emotions to get to a better place. It’s a very beautiful little little book.
Profile Image for Starlah.
393 reviews1,600 followers
June 16, 2020
Following 12-year-old Caroline, a complex island-girl with a lot on her plate. Years ago, her mother abandoned her and her father without explanation. And with her father working all the time, and when he is around, constantly avoiding Caroline's questions, the weight of frustration and loneliness becomes too much for young Caroline to bear. She begins to become consumed with negative thoughts and emotions and anger and is feeling very alone.

That is until she meets Kalinda. Kalinda is a new student from Barbados at Caroline's tiny St. Thomas school where she is constantly bullied by the students and teachers. Caroline is immediately drawn to Kalinda's confidence and poise and the two become fast friends.

I absolutely loved the setting and the rich Caribbean culture. I loved how the book touched on the good and bad of it. I thought that Caroline's character was very interesting and seeing her emotional journey in regard to her parents was intriguing. On the opposite side, I did think that the narration leaned older, especially when the love interest entered the story. For me personally, I thought it was a little odd to see a 12 y/o girl making all of these declarations of never-ending love and destiny choosing your soulmate and such things. I also found the story to be a bit all over the place and a little difficult to follow at times. We had Caroline's internal conflict, the mystery of what happened to her mother, a queer romantic plotline, all of the conflict with her peers and teachers that were going on at her school, AND she was seeing spirits that were following her around everywhere. It was a lot going on in only 200 pages and it wasn't bad, but it didn't do the best job at flowing smoothly and naturally through all of these conflicts, storywise.

Also, I personally didn't love how the mystery of what happened to her mother wrapped up in the end but that is very subjective and just my personal opinion.

Overall, this was a nice story and very fast read but I'm still searching for my favorite Kacen Callender book.
Profile Image for Melissa Stacy.
Author 5 books199 followers
November 23, 2019
The 2018 middle grade novel, "Hurricane Child," by Kheryn Callender, won a lot of prestigious awards. This book is adult literary fiction marketed and sold as a middle grade novel, and I find it entirely baffling that anyone would ever put this novel into an actual ten, eleven, or twelve-year-old's hands.

If you enjoy adult literary fiction with magical realism and extremely unlikeable, loathsome characters, then I would recommend "Hurricane Child" as your next read.

This book features a lot of violence. Within the first twenty pages, the main character, a twelve-year-old girl named Caroline, is stoned at school, and then Caroline picks up even bigger rocks and throws them at the bullies. All of this is written in active scene. Later in the book, Caroline knocks over a security guard, kicks him while he is down, breaks his nose, runs away, and then laughs and laughs about what she has done. Caroline is full of violence and rage because her mother has abandoned her, and her father is a dysfunctional asswipe of a human being, but this absolutely does *not* excuse Caroline's nasty, sadistic behavior.

Her parents are both disgusting people who behave atrociously, and the story never calls them out on their lying, their concealment of their secondary secret families, the mother's abandonment of her daughter, or their overall terrible parenting. Instead, the main character is chastised at school for being "self-absorbed," and the novel presents that assessment as the truth.

The magical realism felt awkwardly tacked on. I don't think it added anything to this bizarre, nonsensical story.

I'm glad to see LGBTQIA+ stories being published in middle grade fiction, but "Hurricane Child" is an absolute mess of a book. There is no one to root for in this book, no real plot, and there is definitely no reason to care about anyone.

One star. Not recommended.
Profile Image for Heidi.
513 reviews26 followers
June 4, 2020
I started reading this book right when the world started falling into chaos, so I'm not sure how coherent this review will be. This is one of those books that I might have to reread because I feel like I will appreciate it more the second time around when I have more mental energy to dedicate to reading. That said, I adored this book. It was lovely and poignant and gorgeous. Kacen Callender has a way with words, and I'm definitely going to read more of their works.

This middle-grade novel follows a young girl named Caroline Murphy growing up with her father on a small Caribbean Island. Her mother left her family about a year before the novel starts, and ever since then, a gnawing emptiness has grown in her heart. She is bullied at school both because she is darker than the rest of her classmates and she is what is known as a "hurricane child," a baby born in the middle of a hurricane, which is said to be unlucky. This poignant novel deals with questions about family trauma, forgiveness, racism, bullying, and coming to terms with one's sexual identity.

I adored the richness of the writing, the way Kacen Callender placed the reader so firmly into Caroline's psyche. I felt everything she was feeling. In particular, the way Kacen Callender depicted Caroline's growing awareness of her sexuality, along with her crush on Kalinda, the new girl at school, was so beautiful and raw and ultimately affirming. It is also such an honest depiction of grief, especially regarding the loss of a parent. Each of the characters felt so real and honest and vulnerable, especially Caroline as she's trying to make her way in a world that tries its best to make sure she feels unwelcome. Caroline's bravery, her strength and her resilience, is the shining star of this novel.

This was a gorgeous middle-grade novel that really showed me that I need to give middle-grade more of a chance. It was phenomenal and I'd highly recommend anyone pick it up.
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