Book Review: The Hate U Give

Book Review: The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
on February 28, 2017
Pages: 444
Published by Balzer + Bray
Genres: Diverse Spines, Fiction, Young Adult
Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

My Takeaway “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.” Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give The Hate U Give was on my to be read pile for way too long. Since its release in 2017, it has…

Book Review: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Book Review: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican DaughterI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
by Erika L. Sánchez
on October 17, 2017
Pages: 344
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genres: Diverse Spines, Fiction, Multicultural, Young Adult
Goodreads

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

My Takeaway “Happiness is a dandelion wisp floating through the air that I can’t catch. No matter how hard I try, no matter how fast I run, I just can’t reach it. Even when I think I grasp it, I open my hand and it’s empty.” Erika…

Book Review: Like Water for Chocolate

Book Review: Like Water for ChocolateComo agua para chocolate
by Laura Esquivel
on January 25, 2001
Pages: 256
Published by Vintage Espanol
Genres: Fiction, Libros en Español, Magical Realism
Goodreads

Una novela sorprendente, inolvidable, cuyo tema gira en torno a un amor imposible para cuya consecución la protagonista recurrirá a las artes culinarias. Bajo la apariencia de un folletín por entregas y encabezando cada capítulo con una receta, esta historia mágica convierte la gastronomía en un código de sensualidad cargado de penetrantes aromas, de colores deslumbrantes. Tita es la pequeña, vive en un rancho con sus hermanas y sus sirvientas, y pese a saberse condenada a no poder gozar del amor por tener que hacerse cargo de su madre, no renunciará a Pedro. Él también la ama, pero se casará con su hermana Rosaura para poder seguir cerca de ella. Tita se refugia en la cocina y se entrega a la elaboración de platos mágicos capaces de transformar las emociones y el comportamiento de quienes los prueban, a la espera de que su trágico destino se cumpla.

Mi Punto de Vista “Y así como un poeta juega con las palabras, así ella jugaba a su antojo con los ingredientes y con las cantidades obteniendo resultados fenomenales.” Laura Esquivel, Como agua para chocolate Como agua para chocolate sobrepaso todas mis expectativas. La novela nos demuestra el amor a…

Book Review: If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi

Book Review: If You See Me, Don’t Say HiIf You See Me, Don't Say Hi
by Neel Patel
on July 10, 2018
Pages: 224
Published by Flatiron Books
Genres: Fiction, LGBTQ, Multicultural, Short Stories
Goodreads

In these eleven sharp, surprising stories, Neel Patel gives voice to our most deeply held stereotypes and then slowly undermines them. His characters, almost all of who are first-generation Indian Americans, subvert our expectations that they will sit quietly by. We meet two brothers caught in an elaborate web of envy and loathing; a young gay man who becomes involved with an older man whose secret he could never guess; three women who almost gleefully throw off the pleasant agreeability society asks of them; and, in the final pair of linked stories, a young couple struggling against the devastating force of community gossip.

If You See Me, Don't Say Hi examines the collisions of old world and new world, small town and big city, traditional beliefs (like arranged marriage) and modern rituals (like Facebook stalking). The men and women in these stories are full of passion, regret, envy, anger, and yearning. They fall in love with the wrong people and betray one another and deal with the accumulation of years of subtle racism. They are utterly compelling. Ranging across the country, Patel’s stories -- empathetic, provocative, twisting, and wryly funny -- introduce a bold new literary voice, one that feels more timely than ever.

My Takeaway Up until around a year ago, I was not a huge fan of short story collections — they’re growing on me though. And when you read a collection such as, If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi you begin to truly appreciate short stories…

Book Review: Fruit of the Drunken Tree

Book Review: Fruit of the Drunken TreeFruit of the Drunken Tree
by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
on July 31, 2018
Pages: 304
Published by Doubleday
Genres: Diverse Spines, Literary Fiction, Multicultural
Goodreads

In the vein of Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a mesmerizing debut set against the backdrop of the devastating violence of 1990's Colombia about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both.

The Santiago family lives in a gated community in Bogotá, safe from the political upheaval terrorizing the country. Seven-year-old Chula and her older sister Cassandra enjoy carefree lives thanks to this protective bubble, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hover just outside the neighborhood walls, where the godlike drug lord Pablo Escobar continues to elude authorities and capture the attention of the nation.

When their mother hires Petrona, a live-in-maid from the city's guerrilla-occupied slum, Chula makes it her mission to understand Petrona's mysterious ways. But Petrona's unusual behavior belies more than shyness. She is a young woman crumbling under the burden of providing for her family as the rip tide of first love pulls her in the opposite direction. As both girls' families scramble to maintain stability amidst the rapidly escalating conflict, Petrona and Chula find themselves entangled in a web of secrecy that will force them both to choose between sacrifice and betrayal.

Inspired by the author's own life, and told through the alternating perspectives of the willful Chula and the achingly hopeful Petrona, Fruit of the Drunken Tree contrasts two very different, but inextricable coming-of-age stories. In lush prose, Rojas Contreras sheds light on the impossible choices women are often forced to make in the face of violence and the unexpected connections that can blossom out of desperation.

My Takeaway “War always seemed distant from Bogotá, like niebla descending on the hills and forests of the countryside and jungles. The way it approached us was like a fog as well, without us realizing, until it sat embroiling everything around us.” Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Fruit of the…