Book Review: Almond, Quartz, and Finch by Liza Bunker

Book Review: Almond, Quartz, and Finch by Liza Bunker

Image description: The photo is of the Advance Reading Copy cover of Almond, Quartz, and Finch by Lisa Bunker. The cover shows three people in various poses around a river banked by sand with a castle in the background. The androgynous person who is most in the foreground is sitting by the river under a tree looking wistfully towards a masculine figure on the other side of the river. The masculine figure is leaning forward on his bent right leg and is missing his left hand. There is a feminine figure in the background with her back to the reader, looking towards the castle.

Hello, this is Betsy from Off the Wall Books N Cafe! I received an Advance Reading Copy of Almond, Quartz, and Finch by Lisa Bunker in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book. The story was interesting and the characters were relatable. I loved the conflicts between how the characters saw themselves versus how they presented to others. I was relieved to have the main characters’ names be used not only in their own language but also translated into English. That made it easy for me to follow the story and keep track of who was which person from the very beginning.

I liked how the author used pronouns to describe not only how characters felt themselves to be, but also how the character was presenting from one moment to another. The pronoun usages and changes worked well. I’d never heard of vo/veir pronouns before reading this book so that was a neat neologism for me (I love new-to-me words and descriptions!).

The main character, Almond, was extremely relatable to me as a non-binary, agender person. I appreciated how every main character’s view of themself and their place in society was slowly revealed through the storyline. The explanations about how the two main cultures and the main religion functioned were easy to read and flowed nicely — none of the explanations of the characters took me out of the story, which is something I really value in a book.

I did struggle a bit with reading the religious text portions at the beginning. Those excerpts are clearly designated and written in a very different style than the rest of the book. I think it was mainly difficult because of my lack of general knowledge initially. Those sections did get easier for me to read as I learned more about the society and main characters who inhabited the world.

Overall, the religious text sections were extremely helpful for building a greater understanding of the underlying structures in the world of this book. So I’d encourage folks who might struggle similarly with those sections at first to keep going, I’m very glad that I did!

Earlier this year I read and enjoyed the Isandor series (4 books) by Claudie Arseneault and this book had a very similar feel. The prioritizing of Queer Platonic relationships/friendships framed primarily by mutual respect is a main common thread between the two, and I find those relationships to be extremely interesting to read about.

The ending was very satisfying (no spoilers here!) and I may have shed a few tears while reading this book (a compliment).

I definitely recommend this book when it comes out!

I’d say that any strong middle grade readers on up through adults are likely to enjoy this book, especially if they are interested in gender diversity. The story has a young adult feel, but the main characters (ages 12-16) are a little younger than most YA protagonists and I believe that most people would find the story appropriate for older elementary and middle schoolers.

Almond, Quartz, and Finch will be released on November 7th by New Wind Publishing. We are always happy to take pre-orders through our store, as well!

Happy reading to you all!

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