... a novel of Tejano plenty blooming among the literary plains of desolation ... Part of the way the novel avoids melodrama is its effective use of multiple perspectives, which results in a rich mosaic of voices that skillfully encapsulates the complexity of family. Another way is the language itself, a mezclando Spanglish...a language pitch-perfect with sentences...And then there are the more profound insights, sentences that deeply mine the human condition ... In switching so effectively between high and low, Degollado makes it impossible to predict what’s coming next ... In the end, the novel’s mix of elements — a plot that draws on magic, language steeped in Tejano specificity, deftly rendered insight into the nature of humanity — makes for a thoroughly satisfying read. As the Izquierdos and McAllen go, Degollado convinces us, so goes life: polyphonic, mixing across borders, expanding with a musicality that only strengthens as it grows.
... resonant ... The stories plumb the hyphenated identities of being Mexican and American through family dynamics, as with Saturday afternoons when Papa Tavo brings his family across the border to go shopping in Mexico. They also explore the brawny, sometimes flawed, Latinx culture of masculinity in heightened dramatic moments ... a rich intertextual novel that’s embedded within Mexican festivals and traditions. It is a testament to the importance of family and the influence of religion, as well as a poignant tale about personal hopes and dreams.
Degollado’s absorbing novel resembles deftly interlinked short stories with impressive, nonlinear chapters that could easily stand alone. That he favors the older Izquierdo children here suggests a sequel might prove necessary to assuage inspired, curious readers.
In this gloriously rich epic, we get to see a full picture of the family. Each interlocking chapter is told by a different character, unifying into a thoughtfully crafted history spanning decades. The characters, who are complex and tightly linked to one another, are enlivened by their belief in a mix of superstition, brujería, and Catholicism that feels both familiar and playful. Family celebrations like a Posada, a quinceañera, and the Fourth of July particularly highlight family dynamics. Though most of the stories focus on the Izquierdo family as a whole, there’s one called 'La Milagrosa Selena' that is less a story and more a letter to the Diocese of Brownsville that advocates canonizing the queen of Tejano music, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez; it's a surprising delight ... An instant Tejano classic.
... vivid ... Throughout, Degollado convincingly portrays the family’s mix of faith, superstition, and intergenerational volatility, and immerses the reader into a porous blend of English and Spanish. This is a gem.