Pet, written by Akaeke Emezi, tells the story of a Black transgender girl who must uncover a monster who is endangering her friend. The main character Jam lives in a city that seems utopian. Taking place after a revolution that has ended violence, murder, and police brutality, Jam is curious about the past and monsters of the past. However, one day Pet, an otherworldly creature, materializes in her mother's studio and tells Jam that one more monster lurks in her friend Redemption's house. Together they go to hunt the monster and protect her best friend.
Notably, in Pet the main character is a Black transgender girl. However, this is not a story about her discovering or affirming her identity, nor is it one about transphobia. Akaeke Emezi, who identifies as transgender and nonbinary, intentionally wrote this book with Black transgender youth in mind. They said:
So I was like, if I’m writing something for black trans kids, what spell do I want to cast? I want to cast a spell where a black trans girl is never hurt. Her parents are completely supportive. Her community is completely supportive. She’s not in danger. She gets to have adventures with her best friend. And I hope that that’s a useful spell for young people. I hope that’s a spell where someone reads that and they’re like, this is like what my life should be like. This is a possibility.
A book that casts a transgender girl as the hero is an important story to highlight for young people.
Emezi also focuses on the idea of monsters, considering what happens when nobody is willing to acknowledge the existence of evil. They indicate, "I was looking at what’s happening in the world now, and I’m like, oh, this is a lot of people not calling things what they are, not calling monsters monsters, not calling evil evil, or not calling white supremacists white supremacists." In the novel, Jam must navigate what to do when nobody believes evil acts are possible or they are not willing to acknowledge and face them. She forges her own way in order to do what's right, sending a powerful message for young adult readers.
(I should include a trigger warning here for students who might be uncomfortable with child abuse, although please note that the book does not contain graphic scenes.)