Latinx Book Bingo Wrap Up | Latinx Heritage Month 2021

Hi everyone! The fourth round of the Latinx Book Bingo has come to an end, I had so much fun hosting this year and I’m so grateful and happy becuase so many people participated. I love seeing people reading and enjoying books by Latinx authors.

For my part, I managed to read 13 books for this readathon and even if I was 3 books short of my goal, I found some amazing books and some incredible authors that I can’t wait to read more books from.

Here are some of my thoughts on the books I read for the Latinx Book Bingo:

Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez (4.5 stars): This book does a good job of commenting on subjects like poverty, addiction, feminicide, police brutality, and so much more, through a gothic lens and with a touch of paranormal elements (a lot of them related to Argentinian folklore). Most of the stories are disturbing and quietly eerie, some with grotesque moments, some transmitting very well the sense of dread and fear of the characters, and a lot of them with spooky and mysterious circumstances. The author leaves the resolution of a lot of the stories up to the reader’s imagination, so it feels like they end quite abruptly, which is a bit jarring but ends up working really well to maintain the sense of uneasiness that the stories create.

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (4 stars): This was very atmospheric, it was disorienting and trippy because the story is told by a confused, feverish woman, and the book makes the reader feel the frustration of the main character, Amanda, with this very intense and strange little kid who is very pushy and vague with his answers. Beyond that, Samantha Schweblin does a good job of commenting on the use of pesticides in Argentina and its effect on the land, the water, the animals, and the people, but adding a paranormal element that it’s never quite explained but that adds to the weirdness and creepiness of the story. 

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (4 stars): This was such an unsettling short story collection, it was weird, unique, powerful, and thought-provoking. It was full of interesting concepts, beautiful writing, and stories that had a lot to say about the experiences of women and the bodies that they live in, the things that are done to their bodies, the way their bodies are viewed and perceived, and the meanings that are assigned to their bodies, both by themselves and others.

The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (4 stars): This is a book about the varied struggles and perseverance of different Latinx undocumented Americans. It’s a book about their experiences, mixed with the author’s own experiences of being undocumented and having undocumented parents, and it’s told in a very casual tone. This book does a great of showing how wildly different the experiences of being an undocumented American are and how the effects of undocumented vary from person to person. The author talks about the undocumented immigrants’ experiences with access to healthcare, work opportunities and conditions, old age and retirement, education and so much more.My only issue with this is that there was something about the writing style that didn’t completely work for me. I think it had to do with the author’s voice.

Her Night with Santa by Adriana Herrera (4 stars): This is smut and it’s great smut. For such a short novella, Adriana Herrera manages to give us compelling characters, an instant connection and tons of chemistry between the characters, and a lot of very steamy scenes. This was a fast, fun and steamy read

One Week to Claim It All by Adriana Herrera (4 stars): This was so fun, dramatic (in telenovela style) and steamy. The main characters had a lot of chemistry and they were easy to root for. My one issue is that the heroine forgot quite easily (before she knew the truth) about what he did to her, which didn’t seem realistic when she has been angry at him for 10 years, but I didn’t mind it too much.

Lupe Wong Won’t Dance by Donna Barba Higuera (3,5 stars): I struggled a lot with the first half of this book because the main character, Lupe, is not necessarily a likeable character. For a big portion of this book, she is selfish, self-centred, and she steamrolls her friends and I had to keep reminding myself that she is a child who is learning about these things. Nonetheless, by the end, I appreciated her character development and I ended up enjoying the second part of the book a lot because it showed her slowly realizing the things that she had done wrong, changing her way of seeing things and working to make up for the way she had behaved. I also appreciated the way this book talked about outdated traditions that are not as inclusive as they could be and should be and how they can be changed without taking away the meaning and significance that they have for people.

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera (3,5 stars): This novella addresses immigration in a very compelling way by mixing myth and reality, the writing is good and the linguistic choices are interesting. I don’t know if it was because it was so short but something was missing for me.

Sabrina and Corina by Karla Fajardo Anstine (3,5 stars): I have mixed feelings about this collection. These are mostly stories about women suffering and going through hard things -violence, abandonment, inherited trauma, loss, grief – and it does a good job depicting these things but there was no hope here and that made me struggle reading this. Also, these were slice of life stories and I figure out while reading this that I don’t like that in short story collections, most of the time I was left feeling like there was something missing.

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-García (4 stars): I ended up enjoying the way things unraveled with the mystery at the heart of this story and I appreciated the setting and context of this, in my opinion, they served as a great backbone to the story. (Full review)

Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin (3 stars):I had a hard time getting into this book because the stories felt very disjointed and I wasn’t really interested in some of them. Nonetheless, the second half of the book is a lot more interesting, because you know the characters of the different stories, you see what it means to them to be a keeper or a dweller, what relationship they establish with the kentukis and the people on the other side of them, as well as broader implications of this technology. The end was very pessimistic and cynical but it seemed realistic to me and while it wasn’t entirely satisfactory, it was thought-provoking.

Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story by Lilliam Rivera and Steph C. (4 stars): I ended up enjoying this, I think it does a great job of discussing the difficulties and fears that undocumented immigrants experience and I think that’s the best part of this graphic novel. The portrait of Jessica’s emotions was very well done and her anger and despair felt very realistic after everything that she went through. My main issue with this is that it includes Mayan gods but that element didn’t really feel integrated into the story and I wish the gods played a bigger role than simply being angel and devil figures whispering in Jessicas ear in a couple of scenes and that’s it.

Eartheater by Dolores Reyes (4.5 stars): This is a powerful book mainly about the violence that women face. It has a compelling main character that felt like a real, complex, fully rounded person, a fascinating concept – a women who can see how people died or where they are and what happened to them by eating earth connected to the person – and writing that, beyond being absolutely beautiful and raw, perfectly transmits the array of feelings that the main character goes through and that the story tries to capture: anger, frustration, fear, grief, passion, indifference, love. I only docked 0.5 stars because the ending wasn’t as satisfactory as I wanted, but overall it was a fantasctic read.

What was the last book written by a Latinx author that you read? What’s your favorite book by a Latinx author?

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