As the siblings reckon with generational and ancestral trauma, set against the indignities of present-day prejudice, other strange hauntings begin to stalk these pages: their mother's ghost kicks her heels against the walls; Rufina's vanished child creeps into her arms at night; and above all this, watching over the siblings, a genderless, flea-bitten angel remains hell-bent on saving what can be saved.
... packs a lot of story into just over 200 pages. The titular siblings, Rafa and Rufina, are in their late 20s and mourning the recent death of their mother, Rosalinda ... All their lives Rosalinda, Rafa and Rufina have been caught in the maelstrom of history, unable to affect it but scarred by events far beyond their ability to control or comprehend. These presences are like characters in a fable. Even those of us who resist magical realism might accept, maybe even celebrate it in this beautifully crafted, poetic book.
Figueroa’s curious and dazzling first novel features a family in which love has been tragically twisted by traumas old and new ... Figueroa’s omniscient, second-person narration creates an intimacy while the hypnotic rhythm of her prose and evocative mystical elements invoke an archetypal sense that is at once out-of-time and thoroughly contemporary as we grudgingly recognize our own precarious epoch.
Figueroa has a way with words. The prose is poetic, unique and engrossing...and oftentimes as magical as the story itself. It’s easy to get lost in the language and the story, both creating this dream-like caliber, but it can sometimes be challenging. The reader may float above the surface without always finding a way in. But that could be the intention. To swim over these uncharted waters and characters that are taught to mystify ... Perhaps we aren’t meant to see all that’s hidden underneath. Or maybe we need to look that much harder.