Sabrina & Corina

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

“Sometimes a persons unhappiness can make them forget they are part of something bigger, something like a family, a people, a tribe.”

It’s early in the year, but I’m prepared to say that this might be one of my favorite reads of 2019. Sabrina & Corina is a collection of eleven short stories about Latin American women of Indigenous descent in Denver and southern Colorado. In each of these skillfully written tales, Fajardo-Anstine bears witness to the lives of these women that both reflect the normalcy—the Americanness—of their lives, as well as the means of their inter-generational survival and perseverance.

A word I would use to describe her style is organic—in that the stories were unique and rooted in earthy reality. I was especially blown away by the title story “Sabrina & Corina,” as well as “Sugar Babies,” “Sisters,” well . . . all of them were a joy to read. I expect to see one of these in an American Lit class in the future and can't wait to read a full novel by her one day.

(Thank you Net Galley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review).
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Sabrina & Corina is a beautifully written short story collection about young Latina women of indigenous descent living in Denver. The stories are about families -- the ways they can hurt you, how they can protect you, and how your parents often aren't who you want or need them to be. Many of them are also about the violence visited upon women by men. All of the stories were wonderful, but I think my favorites were Sugar Babies (a girl grapples with her absent mom returning home), Sabrina & Corina (a woman deals with her cousin's murder), Tomi (a woman, newly released from prison, bonds with her nephew), and Ghost Sickness (a young woman tries to pass her Western History class). Honestly, though, they were all so good and my synopses don't do them justice. Highly recommended.
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Breathtakingly beautiful and heartbreaking stories about some of the hardships Latina  and Indigenous women go through in life that will bring tears to your eyes. I felt each story. I don’t normally read short stories but this one I highly recommend.  I could easily see all of these stories turned into full novels I would love to own. My favorites in the collections were: 

•Sabrina & Corina: The books namesake about two cousins and the different paths they take.  

•Remedies: The consequences of trying to do the right thing or to make up for someone else’s bad decisions.  Made me smile. 

•Ghost Sickness: Bittersweet ending to a great collection.

{eARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review}
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Savored this brilliant book of short essays. The characters are unlike anything I have ever read before. They will stay with me for a very, very long time. This collection with change the Latinx canon just like Sandra Cisneros did with House of Mango street. Highly recommended and well-deserving all the attention it is receiving. Did you see the blurbs alone? Loved it! Long live Sabrina and Corina! Thank you from the bottom of this Latinx heart for sending me this galley.
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Sabrina and Corina is a collection of short stories about different Latina women living in the western United States. Most of the stories are bleak, featuring female characters who are poor, beaten down, and broken. Many of the women feel pushed to be in relationships with men for financial support, but these relationships aren’t healthy and end up hurting the women even more. Those who try to survive on their own don’t fare much better. 

Here are brief summaries of some of the stories:

*** A girl’s junkie mother only returns to the house every once in a while, stays a few weeks, then disappears again for months.
*** A woman has to apply funeral makeup on her dead best friend from childhood.
*** A little girl gets lice every time she’s forced to visit with her poor half-brother. (Even though I was meh about the ending on this one, it was one of my favorite stories.)
*** Two sisters have to come to terms with their mother’s terminal breast cancer diagnosis, while their father struggles to pay for her medical care.

And the sadness goes on. And on…

Honestly, I wouldn’t normally finish a book like this. It’s just too damn depressing. But the one saving grace is that at least some of the women are strong survivors. And it helps, too, that there are repeated themes of family loyalty, community, perseverance, and deep respect for grandparents and tradition.

The stories are beautifully told, but every single one is hopelessly tragic. Even when people rally and come together, it’s always clear that they have no chance at a good life. So my advice is to read Sabrina and Corina with caution. Maybe only take on a couple stories at a time and then supplement with some good self-care. Trust me, you’re going to need a lot of hugs after this one.
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A terrific collection of short stories!  This slim volume explores the issues facing Latina women in Colorado- and so much more.  Fajardo-Anstine writes beautifully and her language packs a real punch.  Short story readers know that they are often perfect bed time reading- something to pick up from the nightstand.  These stories and women might keep you awake, because of their circumstances and also because you'll want more.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s magnetic story collection breathes life into her Latina characters of indigenous ancestry and the land they inhabit. Set against the remarkable backdrop of Denver, Colorado–a place that is as fierce as it is exquisite–these women navigate the land the way they navigate their lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force. In “Sugar Babies,” ancestry and heritage are hidden inside the earth but tend to rise during land disputes. “Any Further West” follows a sex worker and her daughter as they leave their ancestral home in southern Colorado only to find a foreign and hostile land in California. In “Tomi,” a woman leaves prison and finds herself in a gentrified city that is a shadow of the one she remembers from her childhood.And in the title story, “Sabrina & Corina,” a Denver family falls into a cycle of violence against women, coming together only through ritual.- GoodreadsThis is what short stores should aspire to be. From the moment you begin reading to the moment you are done, you feel a range of emotions.Firstly, you have a sense of satisfaction because the ending of each story doesn't leaves you on a cliff wanting more but leaves you with a sense of understanding and purpose and most importantly a connection with characters.It is very clear that Fajardo-Anstine choose her strongest stories to be in the beginning. This is not to say that as you get closer to the ending you begin to lose interest because this is not the case at all. But when you read Sabrina and Corina, which is the second story, you know she did not come to play.Each of these women, these girls have a powerful emotion that they are either discovering within the story or discovering how to deal with it. How Fajardo-Anstine builds the setting in such a short amount of time is amazing. But the story that blew me away was Remedies.Remedies reminded me of my family and specifically passing down not just memories but skills; things that would get lost if they were never taught. It is powerful because these skills connect us with our elders, with our ancestors and it reminds us that they can never be forgotten if we use and teach what they have took the time to teach us.Although there is a bigger theme in Remedies this was the first thing that stuck out to me because Fajardo-Anstine brings it full circle to not let us (the readers) forget about it.Every story was connected in some form of way and I didn't realize that until mid book. I thought that was a fantastic touch the Fajardo-Anstine did and I know that I keep saying this but that connected me to every person in the story. I felt this book and will now use this as what all short stories, be it young adult, adult fiction or non-fiction should strive for. 4 Pickles
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Sabrina and Corina is a collection of short stories mostly planted in a changing Latino community in Denver. Each story is an exploration of a young woman who is trying to understand herself / her world. Decisions are made that may bring respite or increase hardship. But each young woman has hopes for her future and dreams from her past. The stories explore the role of family, who helps you, who you can trust, who saps your energy, who thwarts you, who needs you and what you may owe. Each story delves into some aspect of what it means to be part of a family, a community and a rich cultural heritage. The cover is so beautiful, that alone would make me purchase this book. Enjoyable and recommended.
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Set in an area near Denver, Colorado Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s debut short story collection Sabrina & Corina is both beautifully crafted and breath taking. Fajardo-Anstine lets us “co-experience” the life of Indigenous Latina women by centering on one relationship at a time. In each story we view common themes of abandonment, violence and loss that these women endure. Fajardo-Anstine's writing is so descriptive that she can place you inside the stories. I’m not even sure I am explaining this correctly, but Fajardo-Anstine is a phenomenal writer. This is a must read. Thank you NetGalley & Random House (One world Publishing) for the e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I didn't get quite all the way through this book. The stories are well-written, resonant, and educational for a settler reader like myself. I would highly recommend it, but it was too much of a gut punch for where my mental health is right now.
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She said people will find the loveliest part of you and try to make it ugly. “And they will do anything,” she always said, “to own that piece of you.”

In this fantastic collection of stories by Kali Fajardo- Anstine about the experiences of Latina women indigenous to the vast land of the American West, characters range in age and life situations. Beauty can’t save any of them from the violence of bad men, nor can it guarantee a better life , “they look at us like we’re nothing.”  In Sugar Babies, a restless mother leaves while her daughter cares for her own school ‘baby’. Sabrina & Corina is one of the saddest with a bad ending for a much admired Cordava cousin. The loss finds Corina using her make-up skills to tend to Sabrina’s body as she reminisces of her deep love  for “the family beauty”. Too, she shares the distance between them before everything went wrong, before her cousin’s ‘carelessness’ began to disgust her. This family of women  have lived with nothing but tragedies, how can anyone hope for a happy fate with so much evidence to the contrary?

In Sisters, Dotty has her sight stolen from her and thinks about a missing girl, about survival and thus begins the story of what happens when women say no and bruise a man’s ego, inciting his rage. This is the sort of story that makes me think of Margaret Atwood’s biting quote,  ‘Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women  are afraid that men will kill them.’ What happens to the women in each story can knock the wind out of you, and though fiction, it’s not one bit fantastical and that is frightening.

In Remedies, lice are the monster. I adore characters that understand natural medicine and for some, home remedies was the only cure. Too, a young girl struggles with a half-brother in her life, the father absent for both of them but why should she have to share her own mother? The writing is gorgeous throughout, I kept breaking my heart against each one. Just when I thought it couldn’t get sadder, I was gutted again. ‘Cora and I had been around sick and dying people our entire lives. People, we learned, weren’t permanent and neither were their illnesses.’ Characters are all struggling to keep things together through illnesses, death, grief, and the aftermath of prison. Some deal with their own shameful pasts, others with the inevitable trajectory of what’s to come. The Bob Dylan quote before the stories begin is spot on, these are certainly sad-eyed ladies. Yes, read it!!!

Publication Date: April 2, 2019

Random House

One World
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This is my favorite collection in the past year, hands down. I loved each story - so beautifully imagined and written. I will be purchasing a finished copy for sure when it comes out in April for my shelf of favorites. Thank you!
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Sabrina & Corina is a really beautifully crafted short story collection about Indigenous Latina women living in and around Denver. Each story had an acute sense of sadness and loss, many of them dealt with violence against women, and abandonment. These are necessarily dark themes, but the heart of most of the stories was warm and deeply human. Mothers, grandmothers and daughters, sisters, cousins, and in my favorite story, Tomi, an aunt and her nephew search for connection to one another despite how awkward that can be, and despite sometimes hurting one another. It has been a long, long time since a book has made me cry, and these are short stories so I didn't even have hundreds of pages to get to know anyone character. Fajardo-Anstine has a gift for crafting characters I was able to connect to and feel deeply about instantly.
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Such a good read, there are short stories yet so engaging. The book comprises of series of short stories about Latinas living in Colorado. Life of women with different jobs suffering from sickness after their loved one is lost, today we call it depression! And how family is leading stimulus to give courage and feeling of power. Which is beautifully explained for the two lead characters in this book names Sabrina and Corina. All stories in this book are fascinating and striking

Many thanks to Net Galley and the Publisher for sending me an advanced copy.
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I'm not a fan of short stories but did give this book a shot. The book changed my opinion about short stories. An emotionally charged collection.
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Kali Fajardo-Anstine's "Sabrina & Corina" is full of rich characters surviving inside bleak landscapes. At the heart of this collection runs the thread of sisters, mothers, and daughters trying to make their way through a violent world. While I enjoyed every story in this collection, the title story "Sabrina & Corina" was perhaps favorite. It is wonderfully crafted and it says something both deep and profound about women, misogyny, and the male gaze.
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Don’t be deceived by the slight nature of the short stories found in Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine. These stories stay with you for days afterwards. Some short story collections fail because they run out of steam halfway through or because they lack a cohesive theme. This does not happen here. Sabrina & Corina is an impressive debut. And this comes from someone who has never purposely chosen to read a book because it was set in Colorado. Am I showing my coastal bias? Don’t answer that.

Sabrina and Corina is a short story collection about Latinas of Indigenous descent living in Colorado from cities like Denver to towns like Saguarita. Women of all ages, full of hope and without it - two sides of the same coin as symbolized in the titular story, “Sabrina and Corina.” Sabrina in her youth was “vivid and felt everything deeply…to her, everything was possible - money, true love, a way out of Colorado” yet as time passes Corina feels in her cousin “something unknowable… some sadness at her core that moved between us like a sickness.” Corina becomes a makeup girl at a department store, still trying with her life, while Sabrina drops out of high school, tending bar and sleeping with indifferent men. Corina soon learns to be ashamed of her cousin, embarrassed she doesn't care how people see her. Sabrina doesn’t care because she knows it doesn’t matter because whether she is a makeup girl or a screw-up, “They look at us the same way…they look at us like we’re nothing.”

The lives of women here are that of secretaries, ex-convicts, makeup artists, students, lawyers and graphic designers. They suffer from ghost sickness. Ghost sickness is a cultural belief among the Navajo of suffering illness after the abrupt/violent death of a loved one, with symptoms similar to what we would diagnose as depression, and the women here feel less than human, of being the other and the ignored.

Why wouldn't they when they face few paths for success? Oftentimes, the highest ambition and the most attainable goal is to be a decorative ornament, the trophy wife to a white man, even if it's a bumbling white man that collects rent from properties on behalf of his parents, even it's a laidback bum with no discernible traits. This attachment to white men is fraught, inherited from unhealthy concepts of love and absent fathers, or adopted as a pragmatic approach to upward mobility. “Everything stays the same. Nothing changes. It makes me feel like I’m dead”, admits a mom to her child after she moves to California, leaving her exotic dancing job. And if there is change, is it really change?

Fajardo-Anstine implies there’ a sacrifice to be made by the women that play the game instead of change it. They work clerical jobs, unable to be the creatives they have the potential to be, like Doty in "Sisters" but even when they have won the proverbial jackpot such as Alicia in "All Her Names"- a paternalistic meal ticket, in the best sense of the word, not an abusive but benevolent patriarch, they are lost. Unlike Doty who lost her sight after seeing the writing on the wall, Alicia in "All Her Names" can no longer find the North Star.

Family is a dominant influence for the characters in Sabrina and Corina, both for its power to wreck chaos and dysfunction and in its healing. Children deal with their anger towards absent mothers and let go of the power their physically abusive and absent fathers have on them. Sisters disagree on how to move up in life. A grandmother passes down the gift of her time and the knowledge of home remedies to a granddaughter who realizes in adulthood just what her mother was going through, no longer idolizing the father that walked out on them.

I can’t pick a story that is my favourite because when I look at the stories - wow. I started to list “Chessman Park”, “Any Further West” “All Her Names” and “Ghost Sickness” as my favourites but then “Julian Plaza”, “Remedies”, “Sugar Babies” all are so strong. Annnd I basically listed all the stories in the whole collection :)

This is a NetGalley copy I requested after reading about it in an online Preview.
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Thanks to Random House, via NetGalley, for this advance reader's copy in exchange for an honest review. 

This collection of short stories provides a glimpse into several Latina characters. They are struggling with life or confronting some mundane but quirky situations. Each story had an innovative take: a newly-released prisoner returns to her family home, a high school life skills project unfolds, a girl meets her half-brother, a young college student wonders about her boyfriend’s absence. I was particularly awed by the poetic writing; it’s assured and insightful. As a result, the tone is wistful or bittersweet. My favorite stories were "Sugar Babies," "Galapago," and "Sabrina & Corina."

In such a collection, an author’s sensibilities or habits are evidenced. A pattern among these stories emerged and a few elements became predictable. There's often an abuela or an abuela figure.  The men are often violent or absent.  White men as partners are problematic. 

I would definitely read the author’s future works; and I hope it will be a full-length novel.

Posted 2/3/19.
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I’m not usually a fan of short stories, but this book intrigued me.  

I was pleasantly surprised over how much I enjoyed these, some more than others, but it was a well-rounded collection.  

I will be checking out this author in the future.  

Thank you to NetGalley, author and publisher for providing a free copy of this book.
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I love the cover art. It's gorgeous and eye catching. This collection of short stories, Sabrina and Corina, centers around female Latina culture in Colorado. The stories are both hopeful and sad. Every story is thought provoking. It's an interesting read that's different from most short story collections. It's a good read overall.
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