Sunday, October 27

Book Review: Loteria

Title: Lotería

Author: Mario Alberto Zambrano

Pages: 270

Summary: A young girl tells the story of her family's tragic demise using a deck of cards of the eponymous Mexican game in this spellbinding debut novel that marks the arrival of a powerhouse new talent.

With her older sister Estrella in the ICU and her father in jail, eleven-year-old Luz Castillo has been taken into the custody of the state. Alone in her room, the young girl retreats behind a wall of silence, writing in her journal and shuffling through a deck of Lotería cards-a Mexican version of bingo featuring bright, colorful images.

Neither the social worker assigned to her case nor her Aunt Tencha, who desperately pleads for her niece's release, can cajole Luz to speak. The young girl's only confidant is her journal. Within its pages, Luz addresses an invisible higher power, sharing her secrets.

Using the Lotería cards as her muse, Luz picks one card from the deck with each shuffle. Each of the cards' colorful images- mermaids, bottles, spiders, death, and stars-sparks a random memory. Pieced together, these snapshots bring into focus the joy and pain of the young girl's life, and the events that led to her present situation. But just as the story becomes clear, a breathtaking twist changes everything.

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I loved the premise of this book, and how the author used the Loteria cards to help tell the story. They always seemed to help highlight what was happening in that chapter, the memories each card help Luz re-tell her story, her memories - which at times had me completely captivated by the book. The writing was well done, and I think the author capture Luz's voice nicely.

I did feel like we never fully got to know Luz and that she never fully developed, but near the end when the truth was revealed, it does make sense to why her character seemed stuck in place, would be the best way to explain it. The author did a great job at writing her, but I always felt she was a bit distant from the reader - which was both a good and bad thing. The ending was one of my biggest issues I had with the book. I felt it was abrupt and it felt like there was more that should have been told. The ending itself worked for the characters in some sense, but compared to the book, the ending felt rushed and didn't have the same flare the rest of the book had. I also found the last quarter of the book, started to lose the appeal - especially considering the ending didn't work for me.

Overall a very good read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a very original book, and I think a lot of readers would love the narrator.

What to read next: The Book Thief - something about the narrative reminded me of it.

Challenges: Alphabet Challenge

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