by Romina Garber
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Pub Date 04 Aug 2020 | Archive Date 11 Aug 2020
St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books
“With vivid characters that take on a life of their own, beautiful details that peel back the curtain on Romina's Argentinian heritage, and cutting prose Romina Garber crafts a timely tale of identity and adventure.”–Tomi Adeyemi New York Times bestselling author of Children of Blood and Bone
Some people ARE illegal.
Lobizonas do NOT exist.
Both of these statements are false.
Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who's on the run from her father's Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.
Until Manu's protective bubble is shattered.
Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past—a mysterious "Z" emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.
As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it's not just her U.S. residency that's illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.
"I fell in love with this world where wolves, witches and magic thrives, all in a rich Latinx setting! Lobizona will surely place Garber alongside the Harry Potters of the world” – Lilliam Rivera, author of The Education of Margot Sanchez
Note: The publication date of this title has changed. The new publication date is 08/04/2020.
“With vivid characters that take on a life of their own, beautiful details that peel back the curtain on Romina's Argentinian heritage, and cutting prose that shines a light on the difficulties of being the ‘other’ in America today, Romina Garber crafts a timely tale of identity and adventure that every teenager should read.” —Tomi Adeyemi New York Times bestselling author of Children of Blood and Bone
“Romina Garber has created an enthralling young adult fantasy led by an unforgettable Latinx character Manu. In Manu we find a young girl who not only must contend with the injustice of being undocumented she also discovers a hidden world that may explain her very existence. I fell in love with this world where wolves, witches and magic thrives, all in a rich Latinx setting! Lobizona will surely place Garber alongside the Harry Potters of the world” –Lilliam Rivera, author of Dealing in Dreams and The Education of Margot Sanchez
"In a timely work of magical realism featuring references to Borges and Garcia Márquez, Garber tackles issues of nationalism, identity, and belonging...This layered novel blends languages and cultures to create a narrative that celebrates perseverance." —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Garber’s gorgeous novel combines the wonder of a Hogwarts-style magic school with the Twilight-esque dynamics of a hidden magical species that has strict rules about interacting with the human world." —Booklist, Starred Review
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 367 members
This novel had a lot of new things to say about belonging partially to multiple cultures and fully to none. It also closely followed a lot of YA/teen fantasy adventure/chosen one tropes—but why not? Tropes and the hero's journey may make a story's path predictable, but they're <em>fun</em>. And no one seems to mind when the story is one of the exceedingly popular ones about white males. Why shouldn't an undocumented Argentinian-American girl get a turn at bat? Although Harry Potter is the series that kept being mentioned in its pages, the book was much more like Percy Jackson—it could easily have been one of these new "Rick Riordan presents" books, except that it was a bit more young adult than middle grade.
Lobizona is the first book in a new series that combines topics of immigration into a fantasy world. The main character, Manu, lives with her mother in Miami. Manu does not attend school or really leave her house. She is under the impression that it is because of her undocumented status, as well as the unique color of her eyes that would make her stand out. Manu and her mother moved to Miami from Argentina, fleeing the dangerous family of her father. Manu doesn't learn that she is actually descended from magical beings until she tries to uncover the secrets of her past. She is thrown into the realm of werewolves and witches who live secretly around the world in magical conclaves that are hidden from view. While werewolves are always male and witches are always female, Manu doesn't quite fit in here either.
There is a lot of adventure wrapped up in the novel. It fits many of the traditional YA fantasy novels that put young kids into specific groups and houses. My favorite thing about this book is how the author addresses ideas around immigration and gender in a way that is entirely new.
I really enjoyed the way the Romina Garber told this story. Its such a great idea and so well done as well. It's also the perfect time to be telling a story like this. Manu was a fantastic character to follow and I love the way the magic was weaved into this story about immigrants and ICE. I do have to admit, the pacing was a little fast in the beginning, but it honestly works itself out as the story goes on. I think what I liked most about this book was that it wasn't afraid to tell the story.
Garner has written an incredible book that weaves fantasy with important current issues. Young readers will be fascinated by Manuela’s world and will be enthralled with this magical realism story. Highly recommended.
As an undocumented immigrant forced to hide from her father's Argentine crime family Manuela Azul's entire life has been compacted to fit inside one small apartment in Miami. When the woman she regards as her grandmother is assaulted in their apartment, Manu's life begins to unravel, her mother is caught in an ICE raid and lifelong secrets are brought to light. Suddenly homeless, alone, able to make her own decisions and without the answers she seeks Manu takes a risk of following a man she's seen casing her apartment marked by the only clue to her past she's got - a strange "Z" emblem.
Following the man leads her down the rabbit hole into a world hidden from our own - one that is connected to her father and his criminal past. This world is connected to the Argentine folklore regarding the seventh consecutive son being born a lobizón and the seventh daughter a bruja. It just might be a world that would allow her and her extraordinary eyes to be a part of something larger than herself. Finally among others able to help they delve into her past a part of which dates back to a historical city that was cursed in Argentina but Manu doesn't anticipate that her life is illegal and not just according to U.S. immigration laws.
The fact that the President of Argentina can become the godfather of the seventh son in a family is weirdly fascinating. This practice isn't inherently tied to the myth that a seventh son will turn into a werewolf after their thirteenth birthday but was a way for the President to stem the murders of seventh sons by adopting them as his godchildren. In my quick search I couldn't find anything regarding seventh daughters being associated with the same myth but if it does I shudder at the thought - it took nearly 70 years for the same rule to apply to daughters. This book is based upon being illegal and for Manu that applied in the real world and the fantastical one she discovered she was a part of. The actions in this novel could be a sensitive topic for some but it is not a violent novel.
"...Sometimes reality strays so far from what's rational that we can only explain it through fantasy."
The Argentinean folklore surrounding this novel regarding the lobizón and brujas is interesting - I enjoy stories about gods and goddesses from other cultures. This is the second book that I've read in one day so far this year and yes I'll admit I do have a soft spot for YA fantasy novels. I especially love to read novels like these after reading something difficult, time consuming or disturbing. The cover for Lobizona is absolutely beautiful and it is definitely something that I would pick up if I had just seen it sitting on a shelf in my local bookstore. This book does have a little dash of Harry Potter (even references) and a little bit of Twilight.
I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy YA, fantasy, folklore and paranormal/supernatural books. A big thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this splendid book. Thank you to Romina Garber for persevering to get Lobizona published - I loved it!
Note: Review to be posted to Goodreads on February 23, 2020 and on retail sites (Barnes & Noble, Amazon) upon publication date, May 5, 2020.
This eARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Lobizona is the next “can’t miss” YA fantasy book, masterfully examining pressing political issues, such as immigration and gender equality, through the lens of both today’s reality and a fictional world of mythical creatures. Romina Garber takes readers on an unforgettable journey, in the same vein as Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, yet provides the diversity and representation needed in modern YA fantasy. Lobizona is truly exceptional, every page brimming with magic and wonder. Simply put, please read this book; you will most certainly not regret it.
Strongly influenced by South American folklore, Lobizona tells Manu’s story of self-discovery while beautifully interweaving the myth of the Argentinian lobizón (werewolf). Manu’s narrative details her search for acceptance, set against a backdrop of worlds, both real and fantastical, who tell her she does not belong. Garber delightfully transports readers from real-world Miami to a secret, magical school for lobizones and brujas (werewolves and witches). Without giving too much away, let’s just say that Lobizona takes readers on quite the adventure, with unpredictable twists and turns at every corner.
Romina Garber’s writing in Lobizona is a tour de force, imaginatively breathing life into every page. From the lush, awe-inspiring sights of El Laberinto to the aromatics of an Argentinian-style parrillada (barbeque), she imbues the five senses in her descriptions, only further heightening your reading experience and submerging you into Manu’s story. In addition, Garber’s worldbuilding is exquisite and feels completely fresh and unique for the YA fantasy genre. No matter how swept away you are by the magical elements of Lobizona, her fictional world certainly echoes the very real struggles happening today and incites readers to fight for a better tomorrow.
However, the characters were easily my favorite element of Lobizona, as they’re truly what makes this story come alive. Manu’s character is the female heroine needed in YA literature today, justifiably serving as a role model to young readers trying to understand their cultural identity and place in today’s world. Every character felt completely real and three-dimensional; even the most minor characters make a lasting impression. In addition, it was absolutely refreshing to see Garber fully embrace the Latinx roots of her character and celebrate their diversity. The minute I finished reading Lobizona, my heart was already aching to return back to these characters and dive back into this mystical world of lobizones.
Lobizona is easily one of the best YA fantasy books I’ve ever read. Seriously, do yourself a favor and check out this book as soon as it’s released on May 5, 2020!
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