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NAMED A RECOMMENDED BOOK OF 2018 BY Buzzfeed &; The Wall Street Journal &; The Millions &; Southern Living &; Bustle &; Esquire &; Entertainment Weekly &; Nylon &; Mashable &; Libary Journal &; Thrillist
&;Cassaras&;s propulsive and profound first novel, finding one&;s home in the world&;particularly in a subculture plagued by fear and intolerance from society&;comes with tragedy as well as extraordinary personal freedom.&; — Esquire
A gritty and gorgeous debut that follows a cast of gay and transgender club kids navigating the Harlem ball scene of the 1980s and &;90s, inspired by the real House of Xtravaganza made famous by the seminal documentary Paris Is Burning
It&;s 1980 in New York City, and nowhere is the city&;s glamour and energy better reflected than in the burgeoning Harlem ball scene, where seventeen-year-old Angel first comes into her own. Burned by her traumatic past, Angel is new to the drag world, new to ball culture, and has a yearning inside of her to help create family for those without. When she falls in love with Hector, a beautiful young man who dreams of becoming a professional dancer, the two decide to form the House of Xtravaganza, the first-ever all-Latino house in the Harlem ball circuit. But when Hector dies of AIDS-related complications, Angel must bear the responsibility of tending to their house alone.
As mother of the house, Angel recruits Venus, a whip-fast trans girl who dreams of finding a rich man to take care of her; Juanito, a quiet boy who loves fabrics and design; and Daniel, a butch queen who accidentally saves Venus&;s life. The Xtravaganzas must learn to navigate sex work, addiction, and persistent abuse, leaning on each other as bulwarks against a world that resists them. All are ambitious, resilient, and determined to control their own fates, even as they hurtle toward devastating consequences.
Told in a voice that brims with wit, rage, tenderness, and fierce yearning, The House of Impossible Beauties is a tragic story of love, family, and the dynamism of the human spirit.