King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender

Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family.

It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing a secret about Sandy-that he thinks he might be gay. “You don’t want anyone to think you’re gay too, do you?”

But when Sandy goes missing, sparking a town-wide search, and King finds his former best friend hiding in a tent in his backyard, he agrees to help Sandy escape from his abusive father, and the two begin an adventure as they build their own private paradise down by the bayou and among the dragonflies. As King’s friendship with Sandy is reignited, he’s forced to confront questions about himself and the reality of his brother’s death.

Trigger Warnings

  • Animal death
  • Child abuse
  • Coming out themes
  • Death from a heart attack mentioned
  • Death of a brother recounted
  • Death of a child recounted
  • Death of a son recounted
  • Domestic abuse mentioned
  • Emotional child abuse
  • Grief depiction (central theme)
  • Hate crimes mentioned
  • Homomisia & internalised homomisia (central theme)
  • Homomisic language and homomisic slurs
  • Murder mentioned
  • Parental abandonment recounted
  • Police brutality mentioned
  • Physical child abuse (sc)
  • Racism, racist language, and racial slurs
  • Recreational drug use mentioned
  • Toxic masculinity discussed
  • White supremacy discussed

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