For those whose parents immigrated to this country, A Cup of Water Under My Bed captures what it means to grow up caught between two worlds; between English and Spanish, between America and our parents’ homelands, between family and who we are and who we choose to love. Hernandez writes with what Federico Garcia Lorca termed duende, the deep song, which is to delve into the dark well that is inside us all and pull up the water and drink long and deep and realize only at that moment how thirsty we have been all our lives. Her book is poetic, honest, brutal and refreshing. It is a story everyone should experience, no matter their skin color or culture.
Stephanie LaCava tantalizes with a rendition of her adolescent years in France that is both haunting and strange. She clutches at the strange objects she surrounds herself with as she struggles to navigate her way through a foreign country and a self-imposed isolation due to her social awkwardness. LaCava's whimsical nature fills the pages as we go through her personal journey, which is delightfully peppered with footnotes of facts on her strange menagerie.
From The Girl in the Flammable Skirt to Willful Creatures, the fiction writer Aimee Bender has proven herself a master of the short story. The fifteen meticulously crafted pieces in her latest collection, The Color Master (Anchor, $15), feature characters such as a woman who mends the torn-apart flesh of tigers and a child who cannot recognize other people’s faces—figures that provoke an elegant disquiet. Enter Bender’s spare, strange, and often heartbreakingly lovely small worlds, and when you re-emerge, it’s with something fundamentally shifted. Bender is that rare writer who can achieve much with few words—just one quality which makes this work so compelling, important, and utterly enjoyable.