cover image After the Hurricane

After the Hurricane

Leah Franqui. Morrow, $27.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-320459-1

Franqui’s heartfelt latest (after Mother Land) follows a woman searching Puerto Rico for her troubled father months after Hurricane Maria. Elena Vega, 30, has always had a complicated relationship with her father, Santiago, a Puerto Rican raised in New York City who never shared anything about his life before he became a successful attorney. Then he’s reported missing in San Juan. Flashbacks to Santiago’s upbringing reveal a life marked by poverty, violent relatives, and his mother’s mental illness. By weaving in Elena’s memories of her father, Franqui shows how Elena’s lifelong inability to form a deep connection with others is a result of her parents’ determination to keep Santiago’s demons a secret. Elena travels from New York to look for him, with no clues to his whereabouts or whether he is alive or dead. His home, once a historical gem in Old San Juan, is now in ruins. Old photos found in the house and sightings by neighbors give Elena clues to where Santiago might be, and in poignant passages, an aunt tells her stories about Santiago’s early struggles. The sad reckoning becomes a travelogue of sorts as Elena drives around the island, where blue-hued waters and lush greenery remain amid scenes of devastation months after the storm. It adds up to a moving reflection on love and loss. Agent: Julia Kardon, HG Literary. (July)