cover image Oye


Melissa Mogollon. Hogarth, $29 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-59490-2

In this riotous first novel, a Florida high school senior is thrust by her cantankerous Colombian-American mother into the role of caretaker for her grandmother. Nana is already struggling to complete her graduation requirements when doctors find a mass in her grandmother Abue’s gallbladder. With Nana’s older sister, Mari, away at college, Nana’s mother, Elena, expects her to accompany Abue to her doctor’s appointments and serve as interpreter. Shenanigans ensue as Elena insists they hide the full extent of Abue’s health crisis from her, convinced that “if Abue ‘finds out the wrong information at the wrong time,’ she’ll just give up and die.” Meanwhile, Nana argues in vain that they are robbing the family matriarch of the ability to decide on her course of treatment. Nana’s mordant wit supplies laughs—“Sorry if I’m out of breath. It’s all the running away from our problems”—even as family secrets spill forth to reveal the intergenerational trauma that caused Abue to cut off communication with nearly all of her relatives in Colombia. Amid the frequent histrionics—Abue often threatens to drop dead or kill someone to make a point—Mogollon also manages to convey the fierce love that binds the women across generations. When they finally arrive at varying degrees of acceptance, it feels inevitable rather than contrived. Mogollon wows with tenderness and uproarious profanity. Agent: Mariah Stovall, Trellis Literary. (May)