The Madonnas of Echo Park - Brando Skyhorse

When The Madonnas Of Echo Park (Free Press, $14) came out about a year ago, I was certain that Brando Skyhorse would be recognized as one of the best young writers working today. This novel comprises interconnected stories set in a once lustrous, but now working-class and Chicano, neighborhood in Los Angeles.  The characters are realistic, the sights and sounds are vivid and exciting, and the stories pack an emotional punch. Take a moment and read the first page of this marvelous first novel—you’ll be hooked.

Brando Skyhorse’s debut novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park, recounts the lives of Mexican Americans living in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Echo Park, once a fashionable home for people in the movie business and now a working-class community. Through a series of shifting points of view, we meet Felicia, a cleaning lady, and her daughter Aurora. We meet Efren Mendoza, a bus driver, and his brother Manny former jefe of the street gang Locos and father to Juan who’s just enlisted in the Army. And there are others - all of these people who make up a neighborhood, people we see every day, never imagining the richness of their lives, or knowing how they intersect. The title comes from an incident that shaped the whole community, an accidental shooting, affecting some tangentially and affecting others deeply and crucially. This is a fine and beautiful novel by any standard, but as a first novel, it is astoundingly good.

The Madonnas Of Echo Park (Free Press, $23), by first-time novelist Brandon Skyhorse, tells the story of a community of Mexican-Americans living in Los Angeles.  The group includes a bus driver, a cleaning lady, a student, a retail clerk, a mom, and a gang member. The lives of this disparate bunch of middle-class people are affected—some immediately and some tangentially—by an act of senseless violence. Skyhorse unfolds the narrative with enormous compassion and beauty; it resonates long after you put down the book.

The Madonnas of Echo Park: A Novel By Brando Skyhorse Cover Image
ISBN: 9781439170847
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Free Press - February 8th, 2011

Into the Beautiful North - Luis Alberto Urrea

Luis Alberto Urrea’s Into The Beautiful North (Back Bay, $14.99) is a particularly lovely and haunting variation on the quest novel.  Joblessness and poverty have chased all the men from Tres Camarones, a tiny, remote village in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. But when drug bandits threaten to overpower the town, the feisty, teenaged Nayeli and her three friends vow to sneak across the U.S. border and bring their fathers and brothers home. After a terrifying interlude in crime-ridden Tijuana, the ragtag group does make it to “El Norte” and back again–but with surprising, bittersweet results.

Into the Beautiful North: A Novel By Luis Alberto Urrea Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316025263
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - June 16th, 2010

Trouble - Kate Christensen

Josie is bored. Her marriage has soured and she’s ready for something different and better. Her best friend, Raquel, is a recovering addict and has-been rock-star whose relationship with a man half her age has exploded all over the blogosphere. Fragile and devastated, Raquel persuades Josie to escape to Mexico City with her for a week of relaxation, tequila, and lurid sexual encounters. In Trouble (Anchor, $15), Kate Christensen’s women find freedom South of the border as they redefine themselves in their middle age. Not content to sit back with tea and a bad novel as their bosoms and bottoms sag, these women absolutely love their mid-life crisis.

Trouble By Kate Christensen Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307390943
Availability: Backordered
Published: Anchor - June 1st, 2010