Review: “Crosshairs” by Catherine Hernandez

CATHERINE HERNANDEZ is a proud queer woman of colour, a radical mother, a theatre practitioner, an award-winning author and the outgoing artistic director of b current performing arts. She is of Filipino, Spanish, Chinese and Indian heritage, and she is married into the Navajo Nation. Her novel Scarborough, which is soon to be a motion picture, won the Jim Wong-Chu Award for the unpublished manuscript; was a finalist for the Toronto Book Award, the Evergreen Forest of Reading Award, the Edmund White Award and the Trillium Book Award; and was longlisted for Canada Reads. She has also written the plays Singkil and Kilt Pins, as well as the children’s book M Is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book. Crosshairs is her second novel. She lives in Toronto. In a terrifyingly familiar near-future, with massive floods that lead to rampant homelessness and devastation, a government-sanctioned regime called the Boots seizes the opportunity to force communities of colour, the disabled and the LGBTQ2S into labour camps in the city of Toronto.

In the shadows, a new hero emerges. After his livelihood and the love of his life are taken away, Kay joins the resistance alongside Bahadur, a transmasculine refugee, and Firuzeh, a headstrong social worker. Guiding them in the use of weapons and close-quarters combat is Beck, a rogue army officer who helps them plan an uprising at a major internationally televised event.

Hernandez keeps the oppression faced by BIPOC front and centre within the narrative of her novel. It’s time. As a global community we are with even more clarity oppressive language, behaviours and micro aggressions that BIPOC face in their lives. This pandemic has unearthed dirt that has been lying silently dormant for decades. The civil unrest in the U.S. has played a huge role within our pandemic journey. This isn’t new news, instead it reminds us of BIPOC lives long buried but not forgotten and those that have been erased.

Hernandez’s nod to a dystopian world where oppression still breathes will make your stomach turn. Hernandez paints a painstaking portrait. It is up to us as the reader to reflect on her words and perhaps find the courage to learn more beyond the context of her work. If you aren’t ready for activism yet, that’s ok. Maybe it’s about taking a moment to educate and start to have those difficult discussions with yourself and your loved ones. If you are uncomfortable with anti-Racism, this book still has something for you. Sit in your private discomfort for a moment or two and breathe in what BIPOC may experience within their lifetime. It’s ok. You can do it. What does that reflection tell you about your privilege and what you bring (or not) to the proverbial table?

If you are looking for a good read as we head into the Fall, this novel is for you. Overall, “Crosshairs” is a lyrical, urgent, beautiful story of pain, injustice, and hope. This is the type of text everyone should read.

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