Just so you know, my opinion is from a neutral standpoint, and up until it landed on my doorstep (which was right on pub date), I was completely oblivious to the controversy surrounding this book. Still, I wanted to be my own judge and read it.
What I liked..
– Great opening scene. Something you’d see in an action movie. My heart broke for Luca.
My issues with it..
-It wasn’t the bingeworthy read I was hoping for. It bordered on being overly descriptive, which made for a slower and tedious read. Quite frankly, I’d feel exhausted after only reading 2 chapters at a time.
– The kicker for me: I just wasn’t buying the insta friendship between Javier & Lydia. It felt forced into the story, especially where he reveals his feelings for her. It was laughable!
It reminded me of a cheesy scene from a daytime soap. I had to ignore the part of me that rolled my eyes, just to make it through that chapter.
And rather than trying to protect her husband by convincing him to pull the plug on his story, she goes on to defend her new found friend. It was infuriating.
A story this ambitious would have been told better through a different pair of eyes, like maybe the wife of Javier trying to escape the cartel.. THAT. Would have been WAY better.
– I had a hard time connecting with Lydia and feeling what I should have been feeling after watching her family get massacred. The emotions and terror that should have come along with the aftermath, didn’t come through for me. The gut wrenching pain of death, or that adrenaline rush of being spotted by the cartel..I didn’t feel any of that (and definitely wanted to).
Personally, I felt the story was lacking and ultimately resulting in disappointment. There were some good ideas and enjoyable scenes, but it wasn’t enough to keep me invested in wanting to continue.
Thanks to all the own voices advocates, I’ve discovered some new titles and added these to my list:
I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER BY ERIKA L. SANCHEZ
THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS BY CRISTINA HENRIQUEZ
Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.
Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.
Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?