Review: Depart, Depart! by Sim Kern

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When an unprecedented hurricane devastates the city of Houston, Noah Mishner finds shelter in the Dallas Mavericks’ basketball arena. Though he finds community among other queer refugees, Noah fears his trans and Jewish identities put him at risk with certain capital-T Texans. His fears take form when he starts seeing visions of his great-grandfather Abe, who fled Nazi Germany as a boy. As the climate crisis intensifies and conditions in the shelter deteriorate, Abe’s ghost grows more powerful. Ultimately, Noah must decide whether he can trust his ancestor ⁠- and whether he’s willing to sacrifice his identity and community in order to survive.

Depart, Depart! grapples with intersections of social justice and climate change, asking readers to consider how they’ll react when the world changes in an instant. Who will we turn to? What will we take with us, and what will we have to leave behind? In our rapidly changing world, these are questions we grapple with. Focusing on finding and supporting community after disaster, Depart, Depart! is a story for these uncertain times.


I have the pleasure of reading and reviewing “Depart, Depart!” by Sim Kern. I phrase it this way because there is so much of this novella that is out of my scope of reality that I feel like it is an honor to be exposed to themes and lives that I do not know enough about. I mean I have never steered away from LGBTQ+ literature, movies, or the community, but “Depart, Depart!” feels different. This feels like a story that needs to be told, needs to be shouted, needs to be required. 

Noah is in the middle of a fight for his life. When a hurricane floods Houston, he is bused to Dallas to stay in a makeshift shelter for the Dallas Mavericks. He only escapes the flood because the young ghost of his great-grandfather Abe tells him that he has to leave and leave now. This premise is one that lured me into the novella, but the writing, characters, and themes are what allowed me to sit and read the entire story in one setting. There are so many things in this novella that can be talked about, can be explored, from LGBTQ+ issues and disrespect, from police arrogance and the way they interact differently with certain groups, from immigration and the treatment of refugees (even though in this case they are citizens from a neighboring city), from the fears of the uncertain future, this is a frightening book. There is tension and fear on every page, and this is the scariest kind of horror, one that explores how we treat one another.

I loved every moment of this, every thread and theme, every statement about humanity and politics. I’m sure that this is not a novella that everyone will enjoy, but nobody can diminish the importance and timeliness of the work. I can also say that I started to follow Sim Kern on Twitter after reading this, and they have the most accurate and thought provoking tweets. I recommend following them. I recommend “Depart, Depart!”, especially for someone like me who will never know as much as he needs to know about the world around him. This is a thought provoking and haunting book. Every praise I can give it pales in the amount of praise it should receive. 

I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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