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Where We Go From Here

Where We Go From Here

Published: 3 Jun 2021


Recommended for age 14+

By Lucas Rocha

Illustrated by Marina Esmeraldo

Translated by Larissa Helena

Published by David Fickling Books

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An honest and compulsive novel which unveils the common misconceptions and prejudices surrounding HIV in the twenty-first century, showing how far we've come while shining a light on how just far we have yet to go.

Tagged coping with illness and LGBTQ

Reviewed by Martin Galway

What a time to be human. For context, this review was written in December 2022. It’s hard to know where to begin in setting out the universal challenges of simply being a human at this moment in time. Some Big Picture issues hardly need stating: war, the ongoing climate crisis, the continuing effects and implications of the COVID pandemic. Closer to home, the cost-of-living crisis is extending the bite of food and fuel poverty, and the instability of central government has passed the point of parody. Around the above, we have seen the continuing rise of far-right rhetoric. Calls for freedom of expression so often amount to calls to restrict the freedoms of minority or marginalised groups.

What a time to be human; what a time to be particular kinds of human.

Where We Go From Here by Lucas Rocha, translated from the original Brazilian Portuguese by Larissa Helena is an incredibly human book. It’s alive with humanity – the good and bad, happy and sad. Now we’ve invoked Al Green, let’s just place those phrases back in their context:

Ooh, baby, let’s, let’s stay together
Lovin’ you whether
Whether times are good or bad, happy or sad

The humanity conjured in Where We Go From Here is writ large in that notion of staying together. Two of the three main characters, Ian and Victor, meet at an HIV clinic, both there to receive their HIV test results. No way am I spoiling these early chapters. It will suffice to say that both leave the clinic on distinctly different footings, but on a shared course of friendship that weaves its way across the book’s pages. In this weaving, the book scoops up a third major character, Henrique, who has been living with HIV for the past three years.

Around this central trio is a cast of characters who might be described as minor but must not be underestimated. The diversity of the people in the book, their thoughts, their feelings, their stances, their actions gives the book much of its energy. It’s a book that sings out for togetherness in the face of – you guessed it – the good, the bad, the happy and sad.

This is the sort of book that will appeal to young adult readers who like plenty of characters and plenty of character. It is both fizzy and deep. It faces challenging topics head on: homophobia, outing, online harassment. It explores HIV with informed intelligence; it illuminates and educates. Beyond that, Where Go From Here is a wildly entertaining book for some particularly dark times. It offers a collage rich in humanity in which friendship and togetherness helps the world to keep spinning. In a last-ditch attempt to convince you of its merits, I’m going to let Rocha speak for himself:

‘…that’s what I’d like to say: if you are currently living with HIV or have a relationship with someone who is positive, do not put fear above love. Know that you are entitled to have the best life you can; and when fear comes, remember that you can crush it with love.’
[Credit: Alexandra Nae, Q&A: Lucas Rocha, The Nerd Daily]

What a time to be human. What a time for a beautifully crafted reminder of the power of love.

Martin is Head of School Programmes at the National Literacy Trust. He has previously worked as a Teaching and Learning Adviser for Herts for Learning. Martin has worked across the primary sector as a teacher and English subject lead, and as a lead teacher for Hertfordshire. He is obsessed with books, reading and writing and all the fascinating ways in which they interact.

The LGBTQ set

A set of books featuring LGBTQ characters and celebrating individual uniqueness.