cover image The Family Izquierdo

The Family Izquierdo

Rubén Degollado. Norton, $16.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-86682-7

Degollado’s vivid linked collection (after the YA novel Throw) delves into a large Texas family’s rise to prominence and subsequent misfortunes. “La Tierra” sets the stage in 1958, with Papa Tavo and Guadalupe establishing a painting and drywall business and settling in Reynosa. Decades later, in “Turroco,” the irascible Papa Tavo, having tried out a series of nursing homes only to return to their house, claims his neighbor Emiliano Contreras has placed a curse on him and his family by burying a goat’s head in his and Guadalupe’s’ yard. Papa Tavo’s grandson Little Gonzalo narrates, describing Tavo’s insomnia and agitation, which his father, Gonzalo, attributes in part to the jealous Emiliano’s curse. Together at the grandparents’ house, the family lights candles in prayer. In “Mariposa,” Little Gonzalo, now a fifth grader, goes on a beer run with his older cousin Cirilo and later hears his father accuse his mother of flirting with Cirilo, resulting in Little Gonzalo and his mother fleeing for her safety. In “Padres, Hijas,” Papa Tavo and Abuelita celebrate their 35th anniversary at their house, and the receiving line winds around the block. 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. (Sept.)