Hogarth. May 2024. 336p. ISBN 9780593594902. $29. F
DEBUT Mogollon debuts with a coming-of-age comedy, told as a series of one-sided telephone conversations between Luciana, a struggling Colombian American high school senior, and her older sister Mari, who shines academically. Luciana’s family finds themselves in the path of Hurricane Irma and are unable to convince Luciana’s wildly independent grandmother Abue to evacuate, so they reluctantly leave without her. The storm changes course, leaving Abue safe, but when they return from their road trip they discover that she is seriously ill with cancer. At the hospital, Luciana is called upon to act as translator/referee between the medical staff and her family. At home, the need to keep Abue in check often requires Luciana to be the adult in the room. In the hours they spend together, she learns about her grandmother’s traumatic childhood and the reasons for her fierce need for independence. Through this experience, Luciana learns to be herself and to see death as new beginning.
VERDICT Luciana’s emotional journey to self-acceptance, via the many trials she encounters, is compelling. The unique structure of the novel and its emotional and often hilarious dialogue will appeal to all audiences.
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