Genre: Adult Magical Realism Historical Fiction
Year Release: 2020
Source: Chirp Audiobooks
Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: child abuse, cartel violence, discrimination, hate crimes, alcoholism, physical violence, vehicular manslaughter
Fulgencio Ramirez is a renowned pharmacist in the border town of La Frontera. He scans the newspaper, waiting for news of a death. When it comes, we’re launched into the epic tale of his and Carolina Mendelssohn star-crossed romance, starting in the 50’s and onward. There’s tragedy, heartbreak, the dead not being truly gone, serenades with mariachi bands, roses blooming in winter, and the pursuit of the American dream. This book was a delight through all the twists and turns.
Bittersweet, deeply romantic, the dead are never truly gone in this work of magical realism. In fact, death might just be the beginning.
Genre: Young Adult Magical Realism Contemporary
Year Release: 2021
Source: Physical copy
Content warnings: Graphic depiction and discussion of sexual assault, slurs, PTSD
The book opens with Ciela, having just been assaulted, bringing a boy, who had also been assaulted at the same party, to the hospital, and she leaves them to the nurse’s care without ever finding out his name. Summer ends, and he is the new transfer student, whose name is Lock. What unfolds is a heavy, heavy book about healing, survival, and navigating the truth of what happened that night, while magic unfolds and folds apart around them. Trees vanish and mirrors take the place of the natural world.
The imagery in this book is absolutely the beautiful, the writing, atmospheric and evocative. But what really carries the story is the tenderness between Lock and Ciela as they grow closer, deal with the students who assaulted them, and learn the causes behind the magic unraveling and reforming.
It reminded me a lot of Liz Lawson’s The Lucky Ones in that the path to survival and healing isn’t neat, isn’t linear, and yet, the book ends on an uncertain, but hopeful note.