*ARC provided by St. Martins in exchange for an honest review*
This was my first read by Marie and I am honestly itching to read more of what she has to offer. I always mention on my reviews whether I have grown to respect a character but I will take a moment to point out that my respect was fully stolen by Marie herself. As a Latina and part Salvadoran, I appreciated the way she represented us immensely. This is probably the first time I’ve seen Spanish used so perfectly in a book. I have HUGE expectations when Spanish is used anywhere but I soon found out that Marie knows what she’s doing and I had nothing to worry about. My ethnicity made me connect to this story immediately and I can’t even begin to express my appreciation and devotion towards this novel. But, of course, I will try my best.
This book’s told in two point views and I have to say that I am biased towards the male one. We have Gretchen who is a trauma survivor and who I wished I could heal immediately. Her personality was cute and I found myself liking her right off the bat. I loved how we got to witness just how much her old life was shattered beyond repair and what she did to resolve it.
Then we have Phoenix who was born in El Salvador but is now residing in Atlanta. I had such a vivid picture of him in my mind that it was a breath of fresh air since I am horrible when it comes to picturing characters. Phoenix is running away from his home state and is looking for asylum for him and his brother. Let’s just say that his story shattered my heart and soul into a million pieces, repeatedly. Especially as I witnessed just how beautiful his heart was and how much love he had to offer to those around him. The injustices he had to suffer through were just so undeserved that I want to tear up just thinking about them. I also loved how his favorite food is pupusas which is a meal that my mom prepares quite often at our house. I wished he was real just so I could invite him over to eat some with us.
I loved how they brought out the best in each other and I couldn’t get enough of them. The backstories of these characters felt so raw and real that it seemed like I could encounter them in the street someday. If all wishes came true I would visit these guys in person and hug them with such force to let them know just how much I look up to them. They have taught me a lot of things in just 300 pages and I couldn’t help rooting for them 1001% of the way. I felt so protective of them that they minus well should have been my own flesh and blood.
I had some really high expectations for this novel ever since I heard that this book was going to be about a Latino character but Marie made me forget about them with just the first couple of sentences. This story had me crying, laughing, giggling, blushing, and everything in between. This novel was heartbreaking while at the same time uplifting. I enjoyed how there were some illustrations and articles in the mix as well. I loved every single (nice) character that I was introduced to and I need more of everyone! I am so fond of everything this novel encompasses that I can’t thank Marie enough for writing such a beautiful and profound piece of literature. This book will stay with me until the end of time.