I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself

Blackstone Audio. Jan. 2023. 8:29 hrs. ISBN 9798212236898. $19.95. F
In a dystopian near-future United States, wrongdoers are given “shadows” that stay with them for the rest of their lives to remind them of their moral failings. Those with shadows, known as Shadesters, are subject to higher prices, increased taxes, surveillance cameras in their homes, and societal ridicule. When Kris’s wife dies in childbirth, their baby is given a shadow, setting her up for a lifetime of hardship. But the shadow cannot diminish the child’s irrepressible spark. Living under an oppressive regime, those with shadows must learn to protect each other. Crane’s thought-provoking debut wrestles with tough topics—criminalization, queer resistance, and the dangers of government control. Facing the loss of her beloved wife and the challenge of raising a child condemned from the beginning, Kris wrestles with grief, guilt, and shame about who she is as a wife, daughter, and mother. Bailey Carr narrates this poetic novel, sensitively voicing Kris’s hope and heartbreak, while also capturing the idealism and vivacity of her daughter.
VERDICT This haunting novel of heartbreak and determination in the face of discrimination resonates. Recommended for fans of Ocean Vuong’s poetry and Julia Armfield’s Our Wives Under the Sea.
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