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For Valentine's Day, I'd like to offer my friends list a book rec. It's appropriate to the day, because this book, at its heart, is a story about the many forms of love, and how they make us human.

Santa Olivia's plot fits into several tropes, but I won't tell you which ones, because it subverts those tropes and genres to such an extent that to list them would be providing you with misinformation. This is the most feminist novel I have ever read. Instead of the top-down perspective that most novels offer from the POV of the rich and powerful, this is a story written from the bottom-up. The narrators are poor Latina orphans struggling to survive in a Texas border town after an epidemic. We never find out much about what happened, or what's going on in the rest of the world, because these characters were never told. In fact, a fair amount of the exposition in the first few chapters is eventually proven to be untrue. It's a story about how, when the world goes to hell, some try to help as many as they can, while others try to get as much as they can.

There's one fantastic scene where the narrator tells a friend about some of the things that put her in danger, that she's kept secret all her life. The boy digs out a tattered comic book and declares that her strength and speed and fearlessness make her a super-hero! In any other novel she would be - and yet he's totally missed the point. Because none of those things HELP when showing any sign of what you are would draw the attention of the men with guns who have all the power. The people of Santa Olivia negotiate questions of faith, hope, loyalty, love, sexuality and security as best they can, in unconventional but plausible ways, and live with the consequences.

I highly recommend it!

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
write_light
Feb. 15th, 2013 03:26 am (UTC)
I'm intrigued! Here's the first chapter if you want to dive right in without waiting (or if you're hesitating to get the book).

http://www.jacquelinecarey.com/santaolivia.htm

keerawa
Feb. 15th, 2013 10:51 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's clever, posting the first chapter online to entice people to read the rest!
write_light
Feb. 16th, 2013 02:53 am (UTC)
It's how I get students to try things :D
luzula
Feb. 15th, 2013 12:29 pm (UTC)
Huh, I've heard of that book before, but it just jumped higher up my to-read list!
keerawa
Feb. 15th, 2013 10:57 pm (UTC)
It's well worth a read! (I understand there's a sequel - but not a worthy one.)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )