Book Review: “Every Heart A Doorway” by Seanan McGuire

A friend of mine reached out while I was home and told me he wanted to send me a postcard because that’s one of the things he was doing to keep in touch with people. I shared my address and then shortly after instead of a postcard in my mailbox I found a book, this book.

I was utterly delighted and shocked but so happy. Having just finished trudging through Ulysses, this book was small and compact and I was looking forward to devouring it.

In college, actually a class my friend and I had together, our teacher told us the perfect formula that all good Fantasy (and some Sci-fi) must have. It starts with the “What if” “and then…” building up to an “Oh, Shit!”. Every idea we had for the class had to follow at the very basics that formula before we could even start writing.

This book shows that formula perfectly. What if in this world there are children who go through doors, until all of their “magic” is used up or the world tires of them? And then they go to a school, for kids who traveled to other worlds, an almost support group.

In “Every Heart A Doorway” we follow Nancy who was given the opportunity to return to her home world in order to make sure she really wants to live in the world that opened up for her. Her parents don’t know what to do with her, a girl who once was bright and colorful and is now wearing dark clothes in an older style and barely moving. So they send her to a boarding school. A school where the head mistress interacts with the family/caretakers and the child separately because each need something different. Families need assurance that their child will be okay and they didn’t do something wrong. The child needs to know that they did indeed find a doorway into another world and that they’re not alone, but they also might not ever go back.

Nancy spends her time adjusting, trying to understand that her underworld was one of many many thousands of other universes that call out to the children who need them, allowing them to change and find a home that fits more with who they truly are. Or so it seems most of the time. Sometimes they get whisked away into a story that thinks they’re one thing and then kicks them out when the people learn they’re someone else, like the boy who lives in the attic in charge of all the clothes who knows he’ll never be allowed to return to the world he loved.

It’s also hard for people who’ve lived whole lives to accept that they’re children again, that the ones they loved probably won’t see them again in this life if they don’t find a door again. The adjustment to our non-magical world is rough on the kids and many struggle to accept the low return rate.

But what can make a story of learning to try and fit in with the world around you when you’re so different and so changed from how your family and friends knew you? “Oh, Shit!” A murder mystery.

I loved Every Heart a Doorway. I loved the idea, because from Narnia, to The Wizard of Oz, to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland every story of a child who leaves home to another world to try and find their way back home leaves completely changed to return to a world that hasn’t. And that’s just where it ends. They made it home safe the end. What happens to them after? How do they readjust? Can they even? To come up with a solution to this question was not something I realized I wanted so fervently.

There’s also a pleasant surprise of representation of a trans character and an asexual character. Which to be honest based on who sent me the book I shouldn’t have been surprised. (Friend has literally written books on the history of gay rights and a book about Bisexuality) .

This is book one in the Wayward Children series. I’m very excited to read the rest of the series…after I read all the books on my bookshelf and on my e-reader.

Happy Pride to everyone who falls somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. For anyone who wants to figure out a way to support LGBTQ+ groups, especially during COVID-19 here are some resources. If you want to make an impact in your local community look for LGBTQ+ homeless centers and community centers in your area and reach out to see what they need.

The Okra project: “The Okra Project is a collective that seeks to address the global crisis faced by Black Trans people by bringing home cooked, healthy, and culturally specific meals and resources to Black Trans People wherever we can reach them.” Right now they are asking for matching donations to “honor Nina Pop, Tony McDade, and the many Black Trans people who have been murdered by state-sanctioned violence, The Okra Project is dedicating $15,000 to create the Nina Pop Mental Health Recovery Fund and the Tony McDade Mental Health Recovery Fund.”

Center for Black Equity“To promote a multinational LGBTQ+ network dedicated to improving health and wellness opportunities, economic empowerment, and equal rights while promoting individual and collective work, responsibility, and self-determination.”

Trans Lifeline: “Trans Lifeline is a trans-led organization that connects trans people to the community, support, and resources they need to survive and thrive.”

USA number:  877-565-8860

Canada number: 877-330-6366

Spanish is available.

Trans Equality:“The National Center for Transgender Equality advocates to change policies and society to increase understanding and acceptance of transgender people. In the nation’s capital and throughout the country, NCTE works to replace disrespect, discrimination, and violence with empathy, opportunity, and justice.”

Transgender Law Center :“Transgender Law Center (TLC) is the largest national trans-led organization advocating for a world in which all people are free to define themselves and their futures. Grounded in legal expertise and committed to racial justice, TLC employs a variety of community-driven strategies to keep transgender and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for liberation.”

Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Program: “BLMP envisions a world where no one is forced to give up their homeland, where all Black LGBTQIA+ people are free and liberated. We build and center the power of Black LGBTQIA+ migrants to ensure the liberation of all Black people through community-building, political education, creating access to direct services, and organizing across borders. Led by a directly impacted steering committee and staff and housed at the Transgender Law Center and, we build power, community, and knowledge in the U.S., while challenging the role the U.S. plays globally in creating the conditions that force us to leave our homes.” (a program from the Transgender Law Center)

Trans Justice Funding Project: “The Trans Justice Funding Project is a community-led funding initiative founded in 2012 to support grassroots, trans justice groups run by and for trans people. We make grants annually by bringing together a panel of six trans justice activists from around the country to carefully review every application we receive. We center the leadership of trans people organizing around their experiences with racism, economic injustice, transmisogyny, ableism, immigration, incarceration, and other intersecting oppressions. Every penny we raise goes to our grantees with no restrictions and no strings attached because we truly believe in trans leadership.”

Trans Women of Color Collective: “Our work is led by the narratives, leadership and voices of our community members who exist at the nexus of state sanctioned violence; sex workers, poor people, homelessness and folk experiencing housing insecurity, folks deeply entrenched in complex, seemingly inescapable traumatic environments. Through healing and restorative justice, are building a network of trans, non-binary Black and people of color who are artists, healers, entrepreneurs and creators sharing and cultivating sustainable projects for us and by us.”

The Trevor Project:  “The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning youth.”

24/7 number: 1-866-488-7386

Other resources like text and chat as well as guides to allys are also available at their website.

For the Gworls: “For the Gworls’ Rent and Gender-Affirming Surgery Fund accepts applications from Black, transgender people nationwide. With this fund, we actively fight to reduce homelessness rates in the Black transgender community, as well as lower the risk for affirmative surgeries being done in ways that put them at greater health risks. Now more than ever, this work is especially important considering that many Black transgender people are being laid off in absurdly high numbers, which is only exacerbating the already terrible conditions that Black transgender people generally live in.”

Black Trans Femmes in the Arts: “The mission of the BTFA Collective is to connect the community of black trans women and non-binary femmes in the arts & to build power among ourselves.”

LGBTQ Freedom Fund:“Each day, tens of thousands of LGBTQ people are held in jail or immigration detention because they cannot afford bail—for immigration status or charges like sleeping in public. With your help, the LGBTQ Freedom Fund posts bail to secure their release and safety. In tandem, we raise awareness of the epidemic of LGBTQ overincarceration. We strive towards a critical mass against mass detention.”

HRC:  “The largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.”

U-BE: “United Black Ellument (U-BE) exists to enable young, Black same-gender-loving men to fulfill their greatest potential for good. We are creating ways for young men to come together, meet, socialize, and learn to support one another. We provide alternative social events and opportunities for same-gender-loving men to promote our diversity, well-being, and strength as individuals and as a community. We create a safe environment to talk and encourage each other about issues that are important to us, including safer sex.” (Dallas, Texas)

SNaP Co (Atlanta Trans Leadership): “The internship program serves as a 16 week course of action that educates and empowers members of Atlanta’s trans community to become leaders in ending the crisis of mass criminalization, especially as it impacts TLGB communities in Atlanta and the metro area.” (Atlanta, Georgia)

Southern Fried Queer Pride: “Southern Fried Queer Pride (SFQP) is an Atlanta-based non-profit organization empowering Black queer and QTPOC centered communities in the South through the arts. SFQP envisions a world where Black and QTPOC artists and leaders are employed and owners in the regional South. Black and brown queer folks are often the drivers of culture, but often lack the autonomy and resources needed to support themselves and their communities. Our mission to uplift them, give them the platforms they need, and help create an environment and culture that sustains them.” (Atlanta, Georgia)

The Griffin-Gracy Educational Retreat & Historical Center aka House of GG: “(their) mission is to create programs, services, and resources that positively impact the lives, history, and visibility of Transgender, gender-questioning, and gender-nonconforming people. We do this through programs that promote healing justice, resilience, and organizing among our communities, particularly by and for transgender women of color, to remove barriers that inhibit our survival.” (Little Rock, Arkansas)

Youth BreakOUT!: “seeks to end the criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth to build a safer and more just New Orleans. We build on the rich cultural tradition of resistance in the South to build the power of LGBTQ youth ages 13-25 and directly impacted by the criminal justice system through youth organizing, healing justice, and leadership development programs.” (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Princess Janae Place: “The mission of Princess Janae Place is to help people of trans experience maximize their full potential as they transition from homelessness to independent living. Princess Janae Place fulfills our mission by offering a safe space for people of trans experience to connect with community, access gender affirming support, as well as engage in educational and recreational activities. Princess Janae Place serves as a critical referral source for our members to secure housing navigation, substance use and mental health resources, legal assistance, job training/placement and health care” (New York, New York)

Emergency Release Fund: “Trans people face dramatically elevated risk of harm or death in pre-trial detention. Because of systemic discrimination and criminalization that pushes them to the margins of society, trans people are less eligible for pre-trial release under existing programs. They are more likely to be assaulted in jail and less likely to get out, a lethal combination. The mission of the Emergency Release Fund is to ensure that no trans person at risk in New York City jails remains in detention before trial. If ​cash bail is set for a trans person in New York City and no bars to release are in place, ​bail will be paid by the Emergency Release Fund. Trans people experience constant injustice. Behind bars it can be fatal. It’s on us to make sure no one – not one person – falls through the cracks. We can and we will.” (New York, New York)

The Black Trans Travel Fund: “BTTF was developed for the purpose of providing Black transgender women with the financial resources needed to be able to self-determine and access safer alternatives to travel, where women feel less likely to experience verbal harassment or physical harm.” (currently New York State and New Jersey, expanding soon)

The BQI Collective:BQIC is a grassroots community organization in Central Ohio that works towards the liberation of Black LGBTQIA+ people from all walks of life through direct action, community organizing, education on our issues, and creating spaces to uplift our voices.” (Ohio)

Morris Home:  “Morris Home supports trans- and gender-nonconforming individuals as they develop the knowledge, skills and supports necessary to promote sobriety, manage emotional and behavioral difficulties, choose and maintain safe and healthy lifestyles, and develop healthy relationships with peers, family and the community. Morris Home, the only residential recovery program in the country to offer comprehensive services specifically for the transgender community, provides a safe, recovery-oriented environment in which people are treated with respect and dignity.”(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

TGI Justice Project:We work in collaboration with others to forge a culture of resistance and resilience to strengthen us for the fight against human rights abuses, imprisonment, police violence, racism, poverty, and societal pressures. We seek to create a world rooted in self- determination, freedom of expression, and gender justice. The mission of TGIJP is to challenge and end the human rights abuses committed against TGI people in California prisons, jails, detention centers and beyond.” (California)

The Transgender District:  “Founded by three black trans women in 2017 as Compton’s Transgender Cultural District, The Transgender District is the first legally recognized transgender district in the world. The mission of the Transgender District is to create an urban environment that fosters the rich history, culture, legacy, and empowerment of transgender people and its deep roots in the southeastern Tenderloin neighborhood. The transgender district aims to stabilize and economically empower the transgender community through ownership of homes, businesses, historic and cultural sites, and safe community spaces.” (San Francisco, California)

SD Black Queer Housing: “SD Black Queer Housing is a mutual aid fund for Black queers in immediate need of safe housing. We are a collective based out of San Diego, CA.This fund is to help house black residents who are experiencing homelessness or about to become homeless.” (San Diego, California)

Black AIDS Institute: BAI is deeply committed to exposing the systems and roots of oppression used around the world and in the US to particularly marginalize Black people as a whole. With a deep understanding that health justice is racial justice, we not only address the social determinants of health but dig deep into understanding how unlearning isms and phobias contribute to decreased health disparities amongst Black people and increased ability for health service providers and institutions to address a Black person as a whole and not a part of a sum. BAI is revolutionizing the HIV service industry to center and uplift Black experiences to allow Black people to live their fullest, healthiest lives with dignity, care, and respect.” (Los Angeles, California and National)

Queer the Land: “Queer The Land is a collaborative project grounded in the self-determination of queer, transgender, and Two-Spirit Black/indigenous/people of color (QT2BIPOC) and the vision of collectively owning our land and labor. What emerged from our initial conversations was a desire to create our own solutions to the housing crisis and other crises that disproportionately impact QT2BIPOC. The co-op we envision won’t only provide housing, but also a safer space for QT2BIPOC to create alternatives to the medical industrial complex, police and prisons, and more.” (Seattle, Washington)


A short list of LGBTQ+  friendly Homeless Shelters (check your area) for more:

Chicago: Night Ministry,El Rescate

NYC: Ali Forney Center



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