Title: Cast Out
Author: Joshua Lerman
Publication Date: 2020
Publisher: Zuriel Publishing
Format: Paperback|323 pages
Cast Out by Joshua Lerman has been gifted to me in exchange for an honest review and for that I am beyond grateful. The novel follows the story of Byrne growing up in a rather dystopian world where people are divided by their “religious” beliefs: people from the village follow a female deity who embraces all forms of life and promotes nature, among other things, and those from the city follow a forever mean, unforgiving and vindictive male deity. Although Byrne never labels herself, it is clear from the very beginning of the novel that the male body she was assigned to at birth is not her home.
Byrne is exiled – and rejected by everyone, except her aunt Leera, the one who loves her more than her mother does – from her tribe at a very young age because she refuses to conform to the gender norms the new god had set and her tribe decided to follow. Following her journey from adolescence to adulthood, Joshua Lerman depicts a touching story of a woman who chooses a different path in life in order to be her true and authentic self. The two worlds, with different religious views, have something in common – that being, the traditional views regarding gender identity. Thus, the protagonist finds acceptance amongst those who, like herself, do not fit in the two worlds dominated by religion.
The characters, especially Byrne, are wonderfully contoured and make one instantly feel for them. What I appreciated was that, although awful things happened to her, she kept on going, pushing forward, up until the point where she found what she was looking for. And the fact that the feeling of hope was present throughout the whole book made it only more enjoyable for me. Cast Out is exactly what the title suggests, a gender nonconforming person who is cast out from society and the tribe because of her true self.
I found the book quite touching, engaging and enjoyable, approaching themes such as identity, religion, heteronormality and toxic masculinity. I haven’t read many similar books – with characters outside the gender binary – which made it even more interesting. Some might think that the novel would be more suitable for people exploring their own identity, but it is not. I highly recommend it to everyone – young adults and adults altogether. The only thing I would like to add is a trigger warning for sexual abuse and murder. You can find the book on Amazon by clicking here.