Booktails: How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

“People have forgotten how to care for each other, for themselves. We can’t expect them to care about the world if they don’t care about what’s in front of them.”

I’ll be surprised if you haven’t heard of this month’s Booktails pick.

Published over a year ago, How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu became wildly popular the moment it hit the shelves. Although I considered this debut novel one of my favorite reads of 2022, I was hesitant to review it here, due to its subject matter. I’ve let time pass, and still, I feel my thoughts wander toward the stories in this book from time to time, inspired by the characters and many eerily relevant quotes. 

So let’s give this book a second wind, eh? 

Before going any further, I want to give a little content warning. This book centers around a plague. If pandemic stories are upsetting to you in any way, I’d skip this one. If you were a fan of Station Eleven, stick around and give this book a try. 

How High We Go in the Dark is a deeply moving story following a cast of characters intricately intertwined over hundreds of years as Earth struggles to recover from a climate plague. Mind-bendingly imaginative, this novel is guaranteed to have your thoughts running away with themselves and many extra salty tears streaming down your face. 

Beginning in 2030, a grieving scientist picks up where his recently deceased daughter left off, studying long-buried secrets being revealed by melting permafrost in the Arctic Circle. The most intriguing secret being the perfectly preserved body of what appears to be a young girl killed by an ancient virus. I think you can see where this one is going.

When this virus is unleashed, it quickly spreads across the globe, changing Earth for generations.

As a result, humanity is forced to come up with creative ways to embrace hope in the face of extreme tragedy.  

A theme park is built which caters to terminally ill children, giving them a day full of fun that ends with a roller coaster designed to painlessly end their lives and suffering. A scientist desperately searching for a cure is given a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects, who just so happens to be a pig, develops the ability to speak. A widowed artist and her teenage granddaughter travel the stars in search of a new home planet.

With funerary skyscrapers and hotels for the dead, Sequoia Nagamatsu takes us on an incredibly unique and compassionate journey as we watch humanity evolve in the wake of this devastating virus. 

Get your tabs or highlighting pens ready; this story is full of impossibly beautiful quotes about the resiliency of the human spirit and the threads that connect us all to the universe as well as to each other. 

Order your copy from Bookshop Benicia today, and buy some tissues while you’re at it. That talking pig is really going to tug at your heartstrings. 

Gilded Tonic


  • ½ tsp honey
  • 1/2 lime (juiced)
  • 12 oz pineapple juice
  • Small bunch of coriander leaves
  • Tonic water
  • Edible gold glitter (optional)


  1. Optional: Dip a brush in the honey and paint a line down the side of two tumblers. Sprinkle some edible gold glitter over the honey, dusting off any excess. Place the glasses in the fridge.
  2. Chop the coriander leaves and place them in a cocktail shaker with lime juice, pineapple juice, and a handful of ice. Shake for ten seconds.
  3. Strain into the glasses, add extra ice, and top with tonic water.