Lilliam Rivera is an award-winning writer and author of the young adult novels Dealing in Dreams (March 2019) and The Education of Margot Sanchez (February 2018), available in bookstores everywhere. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Elle, Lenny Letter, Tin House, Nightmare Magazine, and Magazine for Fantasy & Science Fiction, to name a few. Lilliam lives in Los Angeles.
Find Liliam on her website or follow her on Twitter @lilliamr.
- StandaloneBarely FloatingLilliam Rivera
- StandaloneWe Light Up the SkyLilliam Rivera
- StandaloneUnearthed: A Jessica Cruz StoryLilliam Rivera
2021 Pura Belpré Honor Award Winner!StandaloneNever Look BackLilliam Rivera
- StandaloneDealing in DreamsLilliam Rivera
- StandaloneThe Education of Margot SanchezLilliam Rivera
- Goldie Vance SeriesGoldie Vance: The Hotel WhodunitLilliam Rivera
- Goldie Vance SeriesGoldie Vance: The Hocus Pocus HoaxLilliam Rivera
We Light Up the Sky
"An engrossing and exceptionally relevant pre-apocalyptic tale that begs for a sequel."
"Sharp social commentary, on-point humor (“I’m not mentally prepared for this part of the dystopia”), and a tender exploration of grief add heart and depth to a novel that’s just right for fans of Attack the Block."
"A heart-pounding, eccentric and emotionally complex sci-fi."
"A nonstop run-for-your life kind of narrative."
"More than just a riveting alien-invasion story, though, this novel deftly weaves commentary on colonialism, police violence, and racial injustice into the chaos, leaving the main characters to wonder if the only people worth saving may be one another."
"We Light Up the Sky is still an action packed SF that forces us to examine who we are at the end. It’s definitely a must read for YA SF!"
"The short chapters and sharply focused narrative made it easy to pick up and put down, and the realistic characters kept me eager to come back for the next chapter"
“We Light Up the Sky is an unflinching look at a Los Angeles that already feels dystopian to marginalized communities. Rivera’s expert hand guides science-fiction and the contemporary lives of three teens in a race for survival.”
Zoraida Córdova, award-winning author of Labyrinth Lost
“Intense Angeleno realism all of a sudden morphs into even more intense science fiction, and you will read as fast as you can to see how these great young people deal with it. A marvelous story about how we are all being flung into the future unprepared, and have to hang together as best we can.”
Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars trilogy
Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story
"Bolstered by some excellently vibrant, folk-art–flavored illustration, this DC hero’s origin story deftly weaves in contemporary societal issues with a clear-eyed optimism that encourages and informs. Still, it’s a heart-wrenching read at times. In the end, a community’s strength and resolve prove crucial. A beautifully executed, much-needed portrayal."
"UNEARTHED: A JESSICA CRUZ STORY is exactly what a superhero story should be, even if it isn't the typical DC comic. It puts out-of-this-world threats and abilities on the backburner in favor of a narrative that reminds its readers anyone can be a hero and fighting for those we love is one of the most heroic things a person can do. "
"DC's newest YA offering is a gorgeous, relevant, and thought-provoking read which should have a very long shelf-life."
"This is a powerful and heartfelt story. One that is going to be remembered."
Never Look Back
“Defying expectation and categorization, NEVER LOOK BACK is a book not to be read with the mind but to be experienced with the soul. It is a revelation.”
"This book seamlessly blends Caribbean and Greek myth into a contemporary teen novel, exploring realistic aspects of identity, stereotypes, trauma, and romance."
School Library Journal, Starred Review!
“Rivera’s complex world is well realized, and the dialogue rings true.”
"A go-to for any fan of dark mythology."
“[Rivera] showcases her masterful grasp of setting, integrating the complexities of the modern day with the gauzy haze of ancient myth through a slow, careful unveiling.”
"NEVER LOOK BACK sings its own love song to the world"
“Immersive and intense, you’ll want Rivera to retell all your classics.”
"I am such a huge fan of Lilliam Rivera, and her Orpheus and Eurydice–inspired YA novel set during a blistering summer in New York City is nothing short of a marvel. Here's a writer who constantly pushes the boundaries of the kinds of stories and settings magical Latinx folk can occupy, and she does so so tenderly."
“Haunting and richly detailed, this is a beautiful re-imagining that will hurt and heal, sometimes on the same page.”
Mark Oshiro, Hugo-nominated author of Anger is a Gift
“Rivera knows the cathartic power of retelling mythology for a modern audience is the reclamation of agency, and so Never Look Back becomes a call to rise above the hopelessness of an unjust world. It’s a story imbued with the power to heal.”
“An emotionally challenging journey filled with peril and truth-telling. The story is perfect for readers who love a powerful love story masterfully told in the heightened and timeless manner of the Greek gods.”
School Library Connection
"Readers won’t need to know the myth to find this an absorbing supernatural romance, and it may make the classically adept look at the familiar story with fresh eyes."
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"[Rivera] masterfully intertwines ancient and modern lore, leaving readers gasping for breath by the authentic but satisfying conclusion."
"This detailed reimagining of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice mixes contemporary realism with fantasy."
Horn Book Review
“A book so mesmerizing, I was completely pulled into it and had to blink a few times when I finished to reorient myself to my here and now. It’s brave, and beautifully written.”
“Lilliam Rivera’s NEVER LOOK BACK is an own voices, Latinx, Bronx re-imagining of the Greek myth of Eurydice and Orpheus. This fresh perspective breathes new life into the well-known tragedy, transforming the narrative from love story to a layered novel on mental health, true love, and self-confidence. This young adult novel – great for both younger and older teens alike – will have you queuing up Prince’s discography and classic bachatas, all the while reminding you to be grateful for your support system and privileges. Perfect for fans of diverse reads and authentic voices.”
“A tantalizing and rich tale of love and death with musical prose and lyrical prowess. NEVER LOOK BACK hits all the right notes of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth and blends them seamlessly together with modern-day culture and magical realism. Riviera takes on trauma, depression, and anxiety with tender care and Eury’s journey brings her firmly into the spotlight where she belongs. This book is everything I wanted to read in 2020.”
Sami Thomason, Square Books
“In this fresh remix, Lilliam Rivera deftly combines original details with contemporary Afro-Latinx life in the Bronx: from the flirty bounce of bachata to the weight of Hurricane Maria and its impact on island communities and diaspora. I love how this character-driven romance humanizes Pheus and Eury—they are accessible, complex teens distinctly of our time who face an ancient and destructive threat with equal parts assuredness and fearful trepidation. A satisfyingly feminist ending rounds out this myth retextured for our modern moment. Immersive and intense, Never Look Back will make you want Lilliam Rivera to retell all of your favorite classics.”
Niki Marion, Third Place Books
“Lilliam Rivera has once again created the freshest characters with a compelling summer-drenched story wrapped in myth and magic in her now trademarked beloved Bronx. You fall as madly in love with Pheus and Eury as they do with each other, while your heart beats double time during their epic journey.”
Angela Maria Spring, Duende District Books
“Sparks fly when Pheus meets Eury, but their love is tested when mystical dangers from Eury’s past rear their ugly head. Lilliam Rivera’s inclusion of her Latinx culture with unique voices brings new life into the strong ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.”
Jen Kraar, City of Asylum Pittsburgh
“In this Bronx retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice, two teenagers fight against trauma and depression with music and their love for each other. Eury is haunted by an invisible demon—and by the horror of Hurricane Maria’s destruction of her home. Pheus was planning on a carefree summer of singing and flirting, but when he meets Eury, all he wants to do is help her. With the demon trying to drag Eury down to the underworld (literally), can Pheus and his music help her escape? Smart, lushly-described, and very romantic, this is a contemporary reworking that loses none of the original’s magic while transporting it to a whole new world.”
Lily Tschudi-Campbell, Red Balloon Book Shop
“A revitalized and layered retelling that expertly blends reality and fantasy to explore what’s behind love and loss, what it takes to heal.”
Randy Ribay, author of Patron Saints of Nothing
“NEVER LOOK BACK reimagines the Orpheus myth into a bold creation that only Lilliam Rivera could breathe into life. A strange, unsettling love song of a book.”
Elana K. Arnold, Printz Honor-winning author of Red Hood and Damsel
Dealing in Dreams
“The characters are allowed to fully embody the violent ideals of Mega City without artificial moralizing—the blurred line between hero and villain verges on nonexistent. Instead, readers are left with a more ambiguous—and ambitious—tale that will have them questioning what kinds of people they’d be if freed from society’s mores.”
“Rivera posits whether a society can really thrive when any one group dominates another, especially through violence and deception. A novel exploration of societal roles, gender, and equality through the eyes of a captivating lead. Recommended for all young adult collections.”
“Rivera showcases multiple intricate character arcs and details several societies through impressive worldbuilding; young readers drawn to complex action novels that challenge conventions will find this read rewarding.”
“DEALING IN DREAMS is a ferocious young adult novel about the violence done to us and the violence we do to others. It takes the all-too-real premise of a fascist leader donning the guise of democracy while presiding over a population too scared to leave but too angry to stay, then stitches it onto a story of an adolescence torn between painful truths and willful ignorance.”
“The narration will keep listeners enthralled as Rivera’s fast-paced story recounts the adventures of young women warriors who fight for a cause bigger than themselves.”
“Rivera weaves a story of self-discovery, blood relations and chosen families, substance addiction, and race into her sci-fi tale, including details from Afro and Indigenous Caribbean culture and history, show- ing resistance and survival—and blasting it to the future. A dystopian mixtape of boldness, sisterhood, and questioning the status quo, channeling the ethos of the novel and film The Warriors and the comic mini-series Curb Stomp, this book leaves readers wanting more of Nalah and Las Mal Criadas. sujei lugo.”
The Horn Book Review
“…discord between ideals and ethics puts readers in a position to empathize.”
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“As brutal as it is beautiful, DEALING IN DREAMS pulls no punches, launching us on a wild, relentless ride through the cutthroat streets of this brilliantly-realized dystopian world, where hard choices can tear even the closest allies apart and danger lurks around every corner.”
Daniel José Older, author of the New York Times bestselling series, Shadowshaper Cypher
“DEALING IN DREAMS is yet another smart, rich, fulfilling read from Lilliam Rivera, who has, through her last two books, solidified herself as one of today’s boldest YA writers.”
Shea Serrano, #1 New York Times bestselling author of BASKETBALL (AND OTHER THINGS) and THE RAP YEAR BOOK
“In Dealing in Dreams, girls run the crews, boys soothe at boydegas, and anything can happen at any time. Lilliam Rivera’s novel about struggle, courage and family crackles with energy and fresh imagination, with characters you’re rooting for so much that you can’t stop reading.”
Tananarive Due, American Book Award winner
“Lilliam Rivera has really stepped her game up. All the voice and verve that made The Education of Margot Sanchez such an unforgettable debut are on full display here, but now she’s added an incredible science fiction future that can stand proudly beside Scott Westerfeld at his best.”
Sam J Miller, award-winning author of The Art of Starving
“ESPECTACULAR. I read this riveting revolutionary tale in a day because I could not pull away from the adventures of the legendary luchadoras Latinas, Las Mal Criadas. Chief Rocka is a powerhouse, the worldbuilding is sensational, and the themes are resoundingly relevant.”
Romina Garber, author of the New York Times Best-Selling Zodiac Quartet
The Education of Margot Sanchez
“While issues such as gentrification, family dysfunction and sexism frame the novel, there is plenty of room for Rivera’s honest and heartwarming portrayal of Margot, a girl who makes mistakes, seeks forgiveness and creates herself anew.”
“Debut novelist Rivera doesn’t sugarcoat Margot’s conflicted life … Margot makes mistakes, misplaces her trust, and gradually reestablishes who she is in an emotional story about class, race, hard work, and finding one’s place.”
“A debut of great candor, depth, and empathy.”
“Lilliam Rivera did a wonderful job creating a cohesive debut novel. She incorporated romance but left it at appreciable levels. Her book spoke volumes about the importance of being true to yourself instead of trying to be like others around you.”
“The vibrant storytelling is filled with amusing, lyrical language and authentic dialogue representing the South Bronx. The supporting cast is also distinctive, genuine and well-defined. Margot’s lofty attitude and personal angst are expertly done and will hook readers from the first page. A delightful read.”
RT Book Reviews, 4.5 stars!
"The Education Of Margot Sanchez is a phenomenal YA Contemporary novel that touches on a lot of important topics, while at its core being a compelling coming-of-age story."
“Introducing Lilliam Rivera, one of the most unique and exciting new voices in YA. THE EDUCATION OF MARGO SANCHEZ is funny, poignant, compelling and authentic. She nails the music and conflict of an evolving Bronx, New York. I adore this novel.”
Matt de la Peña, author of Newbery Medal-winner Last Stop on Market Street
“THE EDUCATION OF MARGO SANCHEZ shatters the myth of assimilation by exposing the loss and ache that comes with it. Instead, Lilliam Rivera tells the reader that there is nothing more powerful and beautiful than staying true to oneself.”
Isabel Quintero, author of Gabi: A Girl in Pieces
“In the hands of debut novelist Lilliam Rivera, Margot’s choices — which friends? which boy? which future? — take on a tense urgency. Lively and telling, smart and compelling, Margot Sanchez is a character to take to your heart and Rivera a voice to remember.”
Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
“With a passionate voice, Lilliam Rivera weaves a layered, complex story of a girl awakening to herself and her family.”
Cecil Castellucci, author of Tin Star
“THE EDUCATION OF MARGO SANCHEZ feels as classic as Judy Blume and, at the same time, entirely new. It’s a rich, page-turning tale about a teenage girl stuck between a rock and the growing-up place.”
Veronica Chambers, author of Mama’s Girl and The Go-Between
“Rivera’s signature blend of atmospheric prose and magic realism bring to life this Orpheus and Eurydice retelling. The lyrical writing harkens back to epics of old while still maintaining a thoroughly modern outlook. Both Eury and Pheus grow throughout the narrative, battling trauma, depression, and death itself. This is a tender and loving story told with power and grit, breathing love and life into an ancient myth.”
Laura Graveline, Brazos Bookstore
Goldie Vance Series
Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit
"Goldie's endless optimism and belief in herself inspire while creating amusing moments in this satisfying gumshoe mystery. Comic book inserts by animator Power further enliven action-packed segments."
"[S]he [Rivera] shows herself to be skilled at combining noir language conventions with contemporary sensibilities in a way that doesn't feel anachronistic but is just a gas! [...] This biracial, LGBTQ protagonist seamlessly shifts from comics to prose in a winner of a series opener."
“Readers will love Goldie, an ambitious female lead who challenges gender roles, is gay, and is not to be underestimated [...] A great purchase for middle grade collections, especially those whose readers are looking for their next boisterous supersleuth.”
School Library Journal
“Goldie is appealing as a headstrong, confident, absurdly good-natured narrator who worms her way into the heart of the surprisingly normal star Lucerne [...] Rivera unravels the mystery in an enjoyable romp with a large cast of quirky, lovable characters.”
Goldie Vance: The Hocus Pocus Hoax
"A confident young Black gay sleuth, Goldie is a role model for readers who value independent thinking, solving mysteries, and leaping into fast-paced adventures.... Perfect for readers looking for a new female hero of modern crime-solving who isn’t afraid to be her authentic self."
"The plot moves along briskly with snappy dialogue, good-natured humor, and enough twists to keep readers guessing."
Awards & Accolades
We Light Up the Sky
YA Editor's Pick for Publisher's Weekly U.S. Book Show
EW: "Exclusive: Lilliam Rivera on going sci-fi and embracing Los Angeles in YA novel We Light Up the Sky"
Kirkus: "Best Books of the Year"
Shortlisted for the 2022 Children Literature Council of Southern California Awards for Best Young Adult Novel!
Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story
Carlsbad Reads Together 2023: Teen Selection
Never Look Back
Yakima Valley Libraries September 2022 Book Club Pick!