cover image The Holy Days of Gregorio Pasos

The Holy Days of Gregorio Pasos

Rodrigo Restrepo Montoya. Two Dollar Radio, $17.95 trade paper (170p) ISBN 978-1-953387-33-2

Restrepo Montoya debuts with a compassionate and peripatetic coming-of-age tale about a young Colombian American man. At 18, Gregorio Pasos is suspended from his high school student in Danbury, Conn., after sending a love letter to his Spanish teacher, Ms. Monti. While his parents prepare for a divorce and put the house up for sale, he moves in with his uncle Nico, who lives nearby and has a terminal illness, and crashes Nico’s car while driving stoned. Gregorio is well-meaning, and there’s a charmed aspect to his life despite the calamities—his principal feels bad for suspending him, Ms. Monti remains a friend, and Nico celebrates after the insurance payout from the accident affords him a better car. At 18, Gregorio travels with his uncle to Colombia, where Nico shares wisdom about their culture (“To be Colombian is an act of faith,” he tells Gregorio). Shortly after they return, Nico dies, leaving Gregorio a heartfelt letter. As Gregorio continues along his winding road, eventually making his way to Tucson to live with his older sister when he’s 21, more joys and sorrows follow, all informed by a line from Nico’s letter: “Life goes on. It always does.” A carefree ebullience propels much of the narrative, which makes Nico’s contributions all the more affecting. Restrepo Montoya succeeds at capturing the restless energy of youth. (July)