BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine [in Booklist]

A half-dozen Latinx readers voice  Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s superb 11-story debut collection, which features mostly Colorado-domiciled Latinx/Indigenous characters hoping, demanding to be seen and acknowledged by a society in which women are routinely dismissed, threatened, and destroyed. Aural aficionados will especially thrill at the “read by” reveal after each title.

Roxana Ortega, who voices three stories, is most affecting in presenting a pair of once-close cousins splitting apart in the titular “Sabrina & Corina,” in which Corina is tasked with preparing Sabrina’s murdered corpse by order of their grandmother. Alma Cuervo commands two stories, giving distinct personalities to two “Sisters” with divergent requirements for a partner, then turns near-breathless as a tag artist on the run revealing two different pregnancies in “All Her Names.” Perennially youthful Kyla Garcia takes on two young sisters concerned about their bed-ridden mother in “Julian Plaza,” and an unlikely just-out convict/nephew pair in “Tomi.”

Almarie Guerra poignantly voices the collection’s star story, “Sugar Babies,” in which 13-year-olds are tasked with caring for sugar packages as if they were actual babies. Ana Isabel reads “Remedies,” in which two half-siblings bear the consequences of sharing the same cheating father. Marisol Ramirez takes on an aging woman repeatedly victimized by theft in “Galapago,” and a daughter whose desperate-for-love mother cannot control her disappointing behavior with men in “Any Further West.”

Enhanced with resonating performances, Fajardo-Anstine’s exceptional debut becomes a multi-sensory experience.

Review: “Media,” Booklist, November 15, 2019

Readers: Adult

Published: 2019


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