Goodreads Summary: Some people ARE illegal.
Lobizonas do NOT exist.
Both of these statements are false.
Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.
Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.
Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.
As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.
Thoughts: Thank you the Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the advanced copy in exchange for my review.
When I saw so many people raving about this book I knew I had to give it a try.
Phase one: Right from the start of this book there is so much to love, from the writing style of this book all the way to the characters. I love how this opens with Manu being on her period and how that is connected to the changes that are happening to her body. I like that this ties in well to the superstition of the Lobizon and the stories that Perla has told Manu growing up.
I also really enjoyed how Manu isn’t really putting everything together and even when she tries to put things together it is far fetched from what is happening. I like her curiosity towards things and how that curiosity fuels her to find answers which is similar to her mother.
This book starts with the complexity of Manu being different and the complexity of those differences due to not only her immigration status but her eyes. She struggles with what her differences mean for her but is more concerned about what those differences mean for the people that she loves. This book starts out being about trust being developed, lost, and ultimately maintained because that her mother and Perla are all Manu has.
Phase two: This section introduces you to Manu amongst a new setting where she’s surrounded by those like her. She’s trying to figure out where her place is in this world and is finding that she doesn’t quite fit here either.
I love the discussion of the gender binary and the explanation of what Manu’s dad stood for. I want to know more about this man and what he was trying to do. This makes me wonder if Manu is a part of him trying to break whats been established.
The world building is minimal which I actually enjoy as it leaves a lot to the imagination. The other reason I enjoy the minimal world building is because this book straddles the line between reality and magic quite well. I enjoyed that this place Manu is now in is a part of our world but with magical elements that keep it out of sight for others.
Phase three: This is the portion of the book where Manu begins to discover the truth about what she is and who she is. This is where the majority of the story takes place as things are revealed. I’ll be brief in the last phases as I don’t want to reveal any spoilers to you all.
Phase four: There is not much to say about this section besides that it really wraps up the story nicely. I do really enjoy the way things play out between Manu and the others. A lot is revealed about Manu and the other characters in the story.
Overall: Something that I really enjoyed throughout this book was the way the Spanish language was included. There were moments that it was translated and other moments you just had to understand based on context. I really enjoy books that include another language in them and don’t always explain themselves because there are some things that just don’t translate directly.
I enjoyed how it was based on Argentinian culture as I got to learn about that culture and it made me want to know more about this particular superstition. I found it fascinating to research more about this and learn the background behind this and how that research helped me understand the book even more. Once I read the full story and background to this superstition it helped me understand what was happening to Manu and why certain actions were taken in the beginning of the book.
What i really enjoyed about this book was how it was about challenging the rules and what it means to deserve to live. I liked the it handled that topic both in our world and in the world built by the book. I think this book did a great job bringing the issue of what it means to belong somewhere to the surface.
I can not wait for the sequel of this book to come out and find out what is next for Manu and her friends.
You too can enjoy this book by pre-ordering a copy at Eso Won Books or looking for it at your local library come August 4th.