Mercury Plummeting


For the New York Times, Marisa Silver reviews Jenni Fagan’s new novel, The Sunlight Pilgrims, which takes place in a scarily plausible world in which ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and the average temperature is well below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Fagan uses the novel to explore not only the very realistic effects that climate change has on our environment, but also gender identity in young people:

As the days grow short and most of life must be spent inside the confines of a trailer, the claustrophobia Stella feels inside a body that might soon betray her is mirrored by what is happening in the world. When she takes an ill-advised bike ride into the freezing weather, we feel not only her physical desire to break out of her trailer home but also her desperation to escape the gender she was born into. Fagan joyfully summons the sheer jubilance of the girl’s physical power as well as her fear when she realizes she’s out of her depth in the freeze.

Olivia Wetzel is a student taking time off to live and work in San Francisco. If she could be any animal, she’d be a penguin. She’s never eaten pepperoni before, and one of her feet is a whole size bigger than the other. More from this author →