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A Novel


About The Book

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A beautiful, unapologetic, and unwatered-down...dystopian [novel] that holds a sobering mirror up to our own world” (Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author) from the author of the acclaimed novel Scarborough.

In the wake of the escalating global battle for economic and social justice, award-winning author Catherine Hernandez has crafted a dystopian tale of love, friendship, and resistance set in a terrifyingly familiar near-future. Crosshairs births an indelible landscape of memory and uncertainty as Kay, the gay son of Filipino and Jamaican immigrants, is on the run from a fascist regime operated by a paramilitary group known as the Boots. Those who fall at the bottom of the Boots’ social stratification are rendered “Other” and subsequently sent to work camps. They suffer violence that pushes them further into this otherness, although the new regime labels these sweeping acts the “Renovation.”

Kay’s account of these events is a silent letter to his lover, Evan, from whom he is separated when the Renovation’s plans fall rapidly into place. When Kay finds himself on the run again, he lands in the front lines of a civilian-led movement called the Resistance. There, he discovers the answer to his question: “I wonder what could possibly happen in my lifetime that would have me running. What would mean enough to me to fight against it?”

Crosshairs grapples with a matrix of oppressive systems perpetuated by environmental disaster and state-sanctioned violence. Amid the flames of hatred and distrust, marginalized communities rise against the repressive structures that see them as anything but human, and with this, a thrilling message of hope is forged.


Evan. My beautiful Evan. Here in the darkness of this hiding place, I write you these words. Without paper, without pen, I trace these words in my head, along the perimeter of your outline. Watch this sentence travel along the meat of your cheekbone. See my teeth dig into your flesh playfully. Watch these words ball into your hand along with a fistful of bedsheet, which you pull over us to create a tent. I imagine you now, lying across from me, improvising a silly song about the smallness of my ears. Ironically, you sing it half in tune, half out of tune.

“Maybe you’re the one with the small ears,” I suggest, and you scrunch your face in embarrassment. You’re talented at many things, but music isn’t one of them. Sometimes the image of you is clear, right down to the curl of your eyelashes. Sometimes, especially when I’m hungry, I recall the shape of your smile and nothing more. Watch these phrases ink across an imaginary page, a Whisper Letter, folded twice, placed in an envelope and mailed to wherever you may be. I will never forget your name, Evan. And I pray you will never forget mine.

If by some miracle my whispered words reach you, I want you to know that I’m safe on Homewood Street where Liv has hidden me in her basement.

No room in Toronto is ever used in the way it was originally in- tended. That’s what happens in a city always trying to reinvent itself. Like it has an itch it can’t scratch. Like it has a commitment problem. This place was meant to be a cold cellar. A place where, before the invention of refrigeration, the woman of the house would have likely stored things like butter or eggs. That’s why even in the heat of the summer, the heat of this hellish summer, I feel like I’m swimming in the cold breath of ghosts. I’m wearing all the clothes I ran away in. Five layers, which you told me to wear. There is no finding me. At least I hope so.

To ensure that I am hidden, I have set up my bed beside Liv’s furnace. My bed consists of two layers of cardboard boxes cut to fit in the corner of space behind the furnace, and a pile of Liv’s old winter coats, which I use as blankets and a pillow. The idea is, if I need to leave again and in a hurry, what remains behind won’t resemble a hideout for me: a Queer Femme Jamaican Filipino man. Anne Frank, minus the diary.

It is here where I await news, where I hope for your arrival, where I wait for Liv to feed me or to tell me it’s time to run again. I am unsure of exactly how long I have been here, as counting days is its own form of torture. Instead, I understand the passing of time by watching the moon’s cycle from the basement window. Maybe you are doing the same. Lunar crescents have grown fat and then thin across the night sky almost six times. And at the swelling of every moon, Liv has re- plenished my supplies. It is through this same basement window that I have watched a raccoon give birth, pushing those kits out, one at a time, in the space between the spiderweb-stained glass and the corrugated metal framing. I have been here long enough to watch them grow too large for the cubbyhole. Long enough to watch the mama bite the collars of each of her whimpering kits and carry them to the surface of the world, high above me.

In the dead of winter, under a waxing fingernail moon, I jogged in place to keep my limbs from feeling wooden and numb. In the spring, when the flooding began once again, I would stand in ankle-deep filthy water. Under a new moon, with flashes of lightning as my only guide in the darkness, I filled buckets with floodwater and passed them to Liv through the hatch to pour down the kitchen drain. Since summer has returned, and the moon is pregnant-round, I am thankful the musty smell of mold has dissipated a bit.

I can see the sky peeking through the opening of the basement window like a half-circle picture-perfect blue. I’m not sure what is better: to look outside the window and long for sunlight or to lie on my dark makeshift bed, close my eyes, and dream of bicycling with you through the city, fast and free.

About The Author

Photograph by Marko Kovacevic

Catherine Hernandez is a proud queer woman of color, radical mother, theater practitioner, award-winning author, and the artistic director of b current Performing Arts and the Sulong Theatre. She is of Filipino, Spanish, Chinese, and Indian heritage, and she is married into the Navajo Nation. She is the author of the plays Singkil and Kilt Pins, the children’s book M Is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book, and the novels Scarborough and Crosshairs.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (August 17, 2021)
  • Length: 272 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982146030

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Raves and Reviews

Crosshairs is both unnervingly prescient and undeniably profound. A harrowing work that's as much a battle cry as a ballad for the erased, and we should all be listening.”

– V.E. Schwab, New York Times bestselling author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

“A beautiful, unapologetic, and unwatered-down burst of fury against cis white supremacy and tyrannical power systems, centered around a main cast that must be fiercely protected. Hernandez writes the best kind of dystopian story, one that holds a sobering mirror up to our own world. Let this book haunt you.”

– Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of the Legend Series

“Every character has a moment to tell their story. Hernandez delivers beautiful and heartbreaking scenes in a story that is hard especially because of how close it feels to our present.”

– Booklist

Crosshairs made me shiver. It troubled my dreams. Still, I could not put down this dystopia. It was utterly compelling. Catherine Hernandez prophesies Canadian genocide against Queer, Black, Brown, and Indigenous folks. At the same time, she inspires the reader with her depiction of a resistance full of characters who—even in the face of hatred and complacency—show love, pride, endurance, courage, and insist on living to the very last breath.”

– Lawrence Hill, bestselling author of The Illegal and The Book of Negroes

“Catherine Hernandez is groundbreaking. Her talent is remarkable. I dare you not to cry or scream or marvel or, like me, do all at once while reading this book. This story is a masterpiece of voice and metaphor, image and embodiment. But it is also a perfectly crafted portrait of us now, of us then, of the us we hope to be. I love this book, this big, bright missive that not only breaks the ground, but that gifts us with the steps to take in order to get to the other side, together.”

– Cherie Dimaline, bestselling author of The Marrow Thieves and Empire of Wild

Crosshairs is a blistering page-turner. One can describe it as dystopic fiction, but Catherine Hernandez is presenting us with something much more prescient to consider. The novel acts as a provocation and a challenge for readers to locate themselves. Crosshairs offers a glance into a world that is possible if we continue on a trajectory that is frightfully present. Most importantly, Crosshairs asks us what we will do to resist and build a better future when faced with such momentous and dangerous times.”

– Carrianne Leung, award-winning author of That Time I Loved You

“In Crosshairs, Catherine Hernandez shapes a world at once fantastical and familiar, remarkable and relatable . . . The result is a sparkling but devastating novel about corporate and state cruelty, individual as well as community sacrifice, and Queer Black and Brown kinship that must be protected at all costs. Timely, unapologetic, complicated.”

– Jenny Heijun Wills, award-winning author of Older Sister, Not Necessarily Related

“In Crosshairs . . . the distinction between dystopia and reality becomes increasingly imperceptible. . . underscor[ing] that what’s dystopian fiction for some is already a reality for others. . . . Crosshairs leaves readers with two promises. The first is that change is possible. If people with privilege can be motivated to take action against systemic oppression, souls can be saved and lives can be spared. The second promise is that without change, we are hurtling toward disaster. Consider this book a call to action. A demand for change, before it is too late.”

– Quill and Quire

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