Almond, Quartz, and Finch

by Lisa Bunker

Three figures with a castle fortress in the background

What if there was a land where children were raised without gender until they grew old enough to choose for themselves? Fans of Ursula K. LeGuin’s EarthSea will relish this proud, loving homage to the golden age of fantasy, in which gender identity is explored in a contemporary way.

The Nezel lived in such a land but were forced to flee, becoming refugee servants in the desert realm of Irzem. Despite the hostility of their new masters, they continue to practice their Way as best they can.

As the ritual of Naming approaches, brash Quartz already knows the path ahead, while watchful Almond feels torn, fearing that any choice will disappoint someone in the family. Prowling through secret fortress tunnels, Almond and Quartz overhear a villainous plot: an ambitious underling schemes to seize power from Finch, the rightful Irzemi heir.

Aided by a wise orchard-keeper and other surprising allies, Quartz and Almond invent a desperate plan to help Finch fight to keep the throne. In a richly imagined world, sustained by the power of family both born and made, three young rainbow humans make personal sacrifices and claim their identities in a time of strife.

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Almond, Quartz, & Finch is unlike any coming of age story I’ve read before, full of intricate world building, adventure, and gender defying characters. This is a life affirming book that many people— young and old— will find magic, belonging, and solace in; a tale about growing up, trusting in your community, and being brave enough to live exactly as you are.

— Mariama J. Lockington, Stonewall Honor Award winning author of In the Key of Us

From start to finish, Almond, Quartz, and Finch is a book I couldn't put down. Bunker's writing offers the perfect balance of action and intrigue, along with a groundbreaking exploration of gender identity. Lush prose, relatable characters, and a nuanced world are hallmarks of this beautiful, important novel, which is sure to resonate with a wide spectrum of readers.

— A. J. Sass, awarding-winning author of Ellen Outside the Lines

In this imaginative and fiercely hopeful tale about family, friendship, and freedom, Bunker articulates how deeply we know our true genders, and how important it is to honor that knowledge.

— Misa Sugiura, author of Momo Arashima Steals the Sword of the Wind

Bunker creates a rich world that feels lived in and full—one that allows for a nuanced and fresh exploration of gender. Fascinating and dazzling, it is a rare pleasure to follow this journey.

— Caroline Huntoon, author of Skating on Mars

About the Author

Lisa Bunker writes rainbow novels for young readers. Her previous works include Felix Yz (2017) and Zenobia July (2019). She has made homes in New Mexico, the LA area, Seattle, the Florida panhandle, Maine, and New Hampshire. She now lives in Sacramento, California, with her spouse Dawn, an expert on anxiety in children and an author in her own right. Between them they have three grown children. Lisa is a longtime trans activist, and from 2018 to 2022 she represented the town of Exeter in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Her interests include chess, birding, choral singing, and playing bass and piano.

Read a recent interview with Lisa: