Cover Image: Ander & Santi Were Here

Ander & Santi Were Here

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Member Reviews

I’m sorry but this was INCREDIBLE. I wish the imprint supported bipoc people so I could review this publicly. I loved this book from the very beginning with the American Dirt slander lol. Auto-buy author!

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Ander and santi was a sweet story about two boys falling in love and the struggles and choices they have to make in their near future. I liked the Latino representation but had to DNF, had too much of a young voice. Good book! Just not for me.

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Jonny Garza Villa’s Ander and Santi Were Here is a character driven novel that is bursting with culture, joy, love, and support for its Mexican community. Ander is a nonbinary Mexican teen who has decided to take a year off before entering the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in order to dedicate themselves to their art and give back to their community by pursuing an internship-like program with a local organization called Beautify Not Gentrify. Ander unapologetically brings their entire self to their artistic expression. They are constantly frustrated by their parents’ lack of approval for their gap year and their school advisor who constantly wants to pigeon-hole their work. Ander seeks solace in their best friends, a tight-knit group of queer teens who bring humor and warmth in every scene in which they appear. From the beginning Ander is aware of the huge impact the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its politics have had in their community, but so far, it has never hit so personally until they get involved with Santiago, an undocumented teen from Mexico, who works at his family’s taqueria.
Ander and Santiago’s romance is incredibly loving as it morphs from initial physical attraction to a supportive and healthy relationship. Garza Villa does a great job in maintaining a nice balance between the highs of first love and the risk of Santiago’s deportation. While the pace might be too slow for some readers, it allows the characters and their relationships to grow organically. Refreshingly, the central conflict is not about queerness but rather our flawed immigration policies and how we can use art as a form of resistance. With Santiago, Garza Villa gives readers insight to what precarious life and circumstances an undocumented teen would lead.

I would recommend this book to readers who love character driven stories where characters are proud to live their truths and readers of romances that tackle social issues.

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Ander and Santi Were Here talks about real life events that still happen today. Many undocumented people and their families live life looking over their shoulders.
I understand that feeling all too well.

This book had me feeling all sorts of things. It took me three tries to finally get into this book. It wasn’t because of the book, I was not in the right head space for it until now. I am so happy I did not give up though. I ended up loving it so much. It was beautiful and heartbreaking.

I also appreciate how this is an older YA, with 19-year-old characters. I felt better knowing their ages with certain scenes.

This novel is a love letter to Queer Mexicans, and my heart is so full.

If I have any advice for you it’s please do not read this in public or when you’re hungry. It won’t go well 😅

Just read it.

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First and foremost: this cover? Is stunning. Absolutely GORGEOUS. And I love that this is about art and activism and family and love.

Do I LOVE the ending? No. But is it on par with the spontaneity and decision making of a nineteen year old? Yes. So, for that, I can deeply appreciate the ending.

AND I was obsessed with the narrator. Absolute perfection.

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I felt this book with my heart. I was immersed in the realistic nature of their story beyond just their love story . The characters, their experiences, and their adversaries felt like reading a memoir- especially here in Texas.
The brutal reality of deportation and how immigrants are treated - torn from their family and dignity - it was part of the reason I held off on reading this. It was very well written and I always look for and enjoy Lbgtqia+ Queer Bipoc

I adored Anders family, they may have been my favorite part.
I think the pacing was ok- possibly a bit drawn out

I look forward to more stories that are this grounded in reality


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I enjoyed what I was able to listen to. However the story wasn't gripping me the way I thought it would. I will be purchasing a copy to read at a later date.

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Thank you to @netgalley @wednesdaybooks and for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

This book! Such a beautiful story. YA Romance, family, LGBTQ…what a gem. The spirited Ander and his artistic ambitions, his love of his family and community, and his love for Santi. Santi and his desire to be safe, desire to not cause trouble, and his desire for Ander. I had to keep turning the pages.

There are some relevent topics that are big in our society today. While the obvious one of LGBTQ is a big one, the topic of illegal immigrants is pivotal to the story. The community’s love and protection made my heart sign and ache at the same time.

Loved everything here!

5 stars

#books #bookishlife #booklover #readingisfun #iowabookstagrammers #iowabookstagram #netgalley #macmillianaudio #wednesdaybooks #ltbreaderteam #ander&santiwerehere #jonnygarzavilla

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I cry, you cry, we all cry. I love this book. I'm so glad that I got to listen to it as an audiobook because I don't know that I could handle the emotions I have with a physical one. These characters are so rich and diverse without feeling like I have something being shoved down my throat. Made me believe in love

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Unfortunately I ran out of time and didn’t get the chance to finish this audiobook. However from what I got the chance to listen to I really enjoyed. The narration was well done the characters were well thought out and felt like real people, even the side characters. I hope to get the opportunity in the future to finish this one because I’m excited to find out how it ends!

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I'm absolutely going to get way too emotional trying to review this beautiful story. It deserves so many more than five stars because I genuinely think that it is a perfect contemporary YA romance.

The writing is absolutely gorgeous. I was lucky enough to have both an eGalley and the audiobook, and the audiobook absolutely brought everything to life. These characters, their families and friends, the artwork, the restaurant, their lives...everything is so vivid. And there was so much passion. You know those people who aren't afraid to feel, and feel deeply? That's how Ander, and honestly everyone felt to me. It was so raw and real and honest. And it was funny. There was so much laughter and love and joy. There are so many important stories to tell and I just want to shove this book in the hands of absolutely everyone.

I'm not articulating anything well, but just read it. Trust me.

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Love this book soo much

Thank you soooooo much netgalley, the author and the publisher for the advanced review copy if this book💗
"I voluntarily read and reviewed the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”

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Thank you Netgalley for letting me listen to this audiobook. It is one of my favorite reads of the year!

"Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets The Sun is Also a Star in this YA contemporary love story from Jonny Garza Villa, Ander & Santi Were Here, about a nonbinary Mexican American teen falling for the shy new waiter at their family’s taqueria."

Ander and Santi are great characters to follow. I love the romance in this story. Trigger Warnings: Deportation, Racism, Xenophobia, Death of parent, Homophobia, Police brutality, grief.

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I am still gushing about my love for this book! It was emotional, and so beautiful, and one of my new favorite queer love stories.

*many thanks to Netgalley and publisher for the gifted copy

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I am enamored with this book, the characters, the depth of the plot, and the message within this story. It is SO much more than a YA romance. Ander (aka AJ) is a non-binary artist in Texas, working at his family's restaurant while also beautifying the city with his powerful murals. Santiago (aka Santi) is an undocumented immigrant, risking it all for a better life.

So much queer representation in this story - nonbinary, trans, ace, and bisexual. It is a heartwarming and charming story of young love, while also exploring profoundly relevant social issues. This story made me laugh, cry, and burn with rage. Yay feelings. Highly recommend!

Also, I loved the narration within the audiobook. Great production and really brought the emotion to life.

Sincere thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for an advanced listener copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Beautiful story! There should be more story like this! Everyone need to read it! Love that texas was the background as the latino culture!

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The strength of Ander & Santi Were Here lies in its authentic and relatable characters. Ander and Santi, the main protagonists, are beautifully developed, with their unique struggles and vulnerabilities laid bare. Their individual journeys intertwine and unfold with grace, allowing readers to empathize with their joys, sorrows, and the challenges they face in understanding their identities and reconciling their pasts.

Villa's writing style is evocative and filled with heartfelt emotions, capturing the essence of the characters and the setting. The portrayal of the small Texas town is vivid and immersive, painting a vivid picture of the community and its dynamics. The author's attention to detail creates an atmosphere that envelops readers, making it easy to emotionally invest in the story.

The exploration of themes such as grief and loss is handled with sensitivity and nuance. Villa delves into the complexities of these emotions, illustrating the profound impact they have on individuals and their relationships. Through Ander and Santi's experiences, the novel examines the different ways people cope with loss and how it can shape their perceptions of themselves and others.

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WHEN I TELL YOU….i was was completely floored by the representation in this story. I cried, laughed, had many epiphanies lol This story is everything. I’m so glad to be able to have experienced an enby story done well and not just tokenized. I will continue recommending to anyone who loves a coming of age queer story about poc kids. also c the m was a total mood for all my latinxs.

thank you netgalley for the ALC

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This book features wonderful representation and discussions about art, queerness, and being undocumented. I liked how the book started off with Ander taking a gap year before college to pursue an art residency program. They were creating art pieces around their hometown for a nonprofit as a way to discover what they want to do and be as an artist, despite their parents being against the idea. This opened up a lovely discussion about choosing your own path and trying to find yourself amongst the expectations of your parents, and I really enjoyed how the book opened with this!!

Unfortunately, I did DNF this book shortly after that, around the 16% mark. I found the dialogue to be a bit cringey and awkward at the start and the pacing was very, very slow. After a few weeks of trying to get into the book, I decided that it was just not holding my attention and I should pick it back up at a later date :/. (As an example of the slow pacing: we get glimpses of the love interest, Santi, a few times, but only around when I DNF’d did we actually get to really meet him.) I do plan on trying this book again in the future because the premise is very intriguing and the representation is great, but I need something more fast-paced at the moment.

**I paired this ARC with the ALC because I prefer to read and listen at the same time.** The narrator, Avi Roque, did a beautiful job performing the story and is part of why I was holding off on tabling this book for the time being. It truly did feel like a performance rather than a simple narration, and I love when audiobooks bring stories alive like that.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books, Macmillan Audio, and NetGalley for this ARC/ALC!

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I really enjoyed this one! I loved the non-binary + Mexican representation. Ander + Santi were such a great couple. I found myself rooting for them for the entire book! I think this book had a good balance between lighthearted + heavy moments. The only reason I did not give it 5 stars is because I think it was a bit too long. There were some parts that dragged.

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