Author: Romina Garber
Pub. Date: August 4th 2020
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Pages: 400 pages
🖤ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review🖤
“I am that leftover ace of diamonds. I don’t fit into any of the groupings around me, and the things that make me different always seem to count against me”
Lobizona tells the story of Manuela Azu aka Manu as she lives a quiet sheltered life in Miami alongside her mother. Manu has been on the run from her father’s Argentine crime family since birth. Now she hides from ICE raids in the United States by blending in as best she can. For Manu this means homeschooling from Perla, sort of an adoptive grandmother who shares a lie for literature with Manu. Perla has also shared folklore from their mother country of Argentina. One of the superstitions Manu has always felt a connection with is that of the 7th consecutive sons & daughters born in Argentina being either a wolf or witch. This story starts with Manu’s menstruation, a painful time for Manu directly correlated with the moon cycle. Manu’s mother gives her a sedative which puts her to sleep through the majority of her cycle. She remains indoors most of the time but when she does go out she wears shades to cover her unnaturally yellow as the sun eyes. Manu follows her mothers rules in order to keep from being detained & deported but she yearns for freedom and friends her age.
Manu’s entire life course is upended when her mother is detained by ICE & she finds herself on her own. Searching for answers with little to go on, she manages to stumble upon a group of teens off the side of the road. What at first seemed like just group of teens ends up looking a lot more like the Argentine Folklore passed down to her by Perla. Could Perla, the adopted grandmother have been trying to tell her something about her origins? or was it just superstitions passed down from her mother country? Could these people have answers to questions she hasn’t thought to ask? We follow Manu as she dares to uncover secrets and lay claim over her very existence.
It’s been about two weeks since I finished this book & I still remember the raw emotions it stirred up in me. During a time in the United States where we’ve seen children torn away from their families, this one hits hard! Manu left Argentina at the age of 5, on the run from her father’s crime family. Life in Miami has been spent mostly within the walls of her home building. Her very existence is deemed “illegal” in Argentina & in the U.S. and the author made sure to convey Manu’s feelings of displacement. I LOVED the magic in this world! in many ways this has all the elements of a Fantasy set within a school with even their own magical sport. There are witches being trained to use their elemental magic as well as wolves training in physical strength. There’s discussion on gender & identity, the fact that their world is stuck in rigid antiquated beliefs. Their laws make it so they cannot move beyond a binary system & therefore who they may love is also dictated by the assigned sex at birth. I felt this opened the floor for discussion and also set up the foundation for the next book. Manu is reclaiming her identity & with that comes hope for change within their world. I felt so many emotions reading this book but also hope because it feels like Manu’s journey will be one where she fights for equality.
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