The Madonnas of Echo Park

Brando Skyhorse, Author . Free Press $23 (199p) ISBN 978-1-4391-7080-9

Skyhorse maps in his vivid debut the spirit of L.A.'s Echo Park, where Mexican-Americans define themselves either in alignment with or in opposition to their barrio. Each story-like chapter tells the tale of a character who has grown up in, moved to, or fled Echo Park, such as an itinerant construction worker hired to dispose of a murder weapon, a woman who converses with the Virgin Mary, and a hustler who swears he's going to stay out of prison this time. These lives coalesce around a random shooting that claims the life of a young girl. Family epics also emerge, notably the story of Aurora Esperanza, whose absent father narrates the opening story and whose mother was at the center of a tragedy. Aurora herself closes out the book, drawing together threads of homecoming that weave throughout the novel. Though a few of the narrators' voices aren't distinct enough, Skyhorse excels at building a vibrant community and presenting several perspectives on what it means to be Mexican in America, from those who wonder “how can you lose something that never belonged to you?” to those who miraculously find it. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/05/2010
Release date: 06/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
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