By Julia Alvarez
Retired English professor Antonia Vega is struggling after the death of her husband Sam. Having grown up in the Dominican Republic, English is her second language, but platitudes from her favorite authors swirl through her mind as she doles out wise words garnered from years of reading. Favorite students and books have nurtured her life while Sam, a compassionate physician, took care of the rest of the world. As she contemplates her suddenly solitary life in a quiet Vermont farming town, Antonia begs Sam for a sign. One day a pregnant teenager, the girlfriend of a local migrant worker, shows up on her doorstep terrified that her boyfriend Mario has abandoned her. As the only Spanish-speaking local, how can Antonia send her away? To add to her distress, Antonia’s eldest erratic sister, Izzy, never arrives at her birthday celebration, sending the other three sisters on a wild goose chase. Her once ordered world has been turned upside down. Antonia must figure out whom she will be in this afterlife. A sensitive, fast-paced story of diversity and identity by international bestselling Dominican- American author Julia Alvarez.
Sammy Espinoza’s Last Review
By Tehlor Kay Mejia
The online rumor mills insist that Max Ryan, who hasn’t performed in seven years, is preparing a comeback. Once a heartthrob, this sexy rockstar was crooning to stadium-sized crowds, but after two extraordinary tours he disappeared. Max has been secretly tucked away in Ridley Falls, working on a new solo album. Meanwhile, Sammy Espinoza is living in Seattle and working as a music critic when her thriving career implodes. Sammy’s most recent reviews misled her fans, and the truth is she was trying to hang on to her rocky relationship. Now single with her job on the line, Sammy comes up with the perfect solution: To save her column, she convinces her boss that a trip to Ridley Falls – where her parents grew up – will give her access to Max Ryan and the interview of a lifetime. What Sammy has not fully disclosed is that she and Max met 11 years earlier, before he was a household name. A melodious romance filled with all kinds of love, friendship and family by Mexican-American author Tehlor Kay Mejia.
An American Immigrant
By Johanna Rojas Vann
Melanie Carvajal is a young, inexperienced journalist at the Miami Herald. When a big story breaks in Colombia, Melanie volunteers to take the assignment. Although her mother is from Colombia, she has never been, and in all honesty spent her childhood wishing away her Latin heritage. Growing up in Maryland in a tiny apartment, Melanie wished she had better clothes, more money and parents who spoke English. She didn’t care for aunts who behaved too loudly, or for the smell of foreign food that filled her lunchbox. Since her grandmother Alba’s birthday is approaching, she decides to meet her mother for a celebration before heading to Bogota for work. As she slowly loosens up and begins cooking with Alba, dancing with cousins and reading her mother’s old journals, Melanie has a change of heart. She can finally see her familia in a new light, their generosity and kindness unlike the violent Colombia portrayed in the media. Devouring the journals, she learns of the terrifying struggles and sacrifices her mother made. Inspired by actual events, this debut novel by Colombian-American author Johanna Rojas Vann is filled with culture, community and the sacred gift of family.
#WORTHWATCHING: To save their impoverished orphanage from ruin, the guardian in charge partners with an old disgruntled captain for a chance to catch the big one and win prize money that could change their lives. Based on a true story, “Blue Miracle” can be seen on Netflix.