The book crystallizes around one storm in particular—Hurricane Ike from 2008—which intensifies the quandary over leaving or staying. But even here the event is as unifying as it is destructive, bringing together the scattered cast in the collective work of reconstruction. Ms. Garza’s affection for Galveston is so heartfelt that she sometimes sticks bits of regional history into the chapters in clunky if charming ways, and the book ends with an annotated glossary of local terms. Artless perhaps, but every city would be lucky for such a tribute.
... stunning ... Drawing on her firsthand experience of south Texas and its communities, Garza immerses her readers in sensory details ... Garza highlights the diverse origins and worldviews behind the brown faces of Texas's south coast, and celebrates their quiet resilience, ingenuity and strength. She follows their stories, but leaves some ends hanging loose; these characters, like their communities, are too complex for tidy endings ... Evocative, sometimes heartbreaking and full of rich descriptions, The Last Karankawas is a love letter to the Galveston most tourists never see and a tribute to the people who sustain, and are sustained by, their adopted homeland.
Garza’s excellent debut paints a rich portrait of the inhabitants of Galveston and other parts of southern Texas ... Garza also captures the effects of many real events. There are numerous veterans of the Iraq war, and Hurricane Ike looms over much of the novel. Written in lyrical, nearly hypnotic prose that makes the reader feel the Texan humidity, this is a brilliantly plotted, startling, and richly rewarding exploration of the myths that bind people together, generational traumas, and the remarkable adaptability of humans.
... accomplished ... Though readers might have trouble keeping track of the many characters, the strong sense of place carries through no matter who is talking, whether individual characters or a chorus of Filipino church members who scrutinize Carly. This is a worthy love letter to Galveston.