The Waves Take You Home
by María Alejandra Barrios Vélez
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Pub Date 19 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 02 Apr 2024
In this heartfelt story about how the places we run from hold the answers to our deepest challenges, the death of her grandmother brings a young woman home, where she must face the past in order to become the heir of not just the family restaurant, but her own destiny.
Violeta Sanoguera had always done what she was told. She left the man she loved in Colombia in pursuit of a better life for herself and because her mother and grandmother didn’t approve of him. Chasing dreams of education and art in New York City, and with a new love, twenty-eight-year-old Violeta establishes a new life for herself, on her terms. But when her grandmother suddenly dies, everything changes.
After years of being on her own in NYC, Violeta finds herself on a plane back to Colombia, accompanied at all times by the ghost of her grandmother who is sending her messages and signs, to find she is the heir of the failing family restaurant, the very one Abuela told her to run from in the first place. The journey leads her to rediscover her home, her grandmother, and even the flame of an old love.
A Note From the Publisher
She was the 2020 SmokeLong Flash Fiction Fellow, and her stories have been published in Shenandoah Literary, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, El Malpensante, Fractured Lit, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Offing, and more. Her work has been supported by organizations such as Vermont Studio Center, Caldera Arts, and the New Orleans Writers’ Residency.
The Waves Take You Home is María’s debut, inspired by the resilience and strength of the women in her family and the Caribbean city she spent most of her life in.
“It’s hard to put down an international love triangle, especially one featuring ghosts and a quest to save a family’s legacy set along the Caribbean coast! Every page in The Waves Take You Home sizzles with life and lush descriptions. I grew nostalgic as I read for the sights and smells of Colombian street food and culture. It’s a love story, deeply invested in all the ways love defines us—love for family, childhood crushes, tradition, and especially a well-cooked meal.” —Adriana E. Ramírez, author of Dead Boys, winner of the PEN Fusion Award, and author of the forthcoming novel The Violence
“Richly atmospheric and poignant, The Waves Take You Home is a delicious feast for the heart. María Alejandra Barrios Vélez’s debut thoughtfully examines the way generational roots bind us to the past and nurture our future. I could feel the oppressive heat of Barranquilla, Colombia, taste the flavorful paella, and smell the sweet vanilla in the air as Violeta ‘Vi’ Sanoguera learns to trust her intuition and find her voice. A story of self-discovery, family, food, and love I didn’t want to end!” —Lauren Parvizi, author of La Vie, According to Rose
“The Waves Take You Home is a tender, generous novel that sings with the rhythms of family, food, and love. A warm and wise meditation on the ghosts of lives unlived that challenges familiar immigrant narratives and resounds with the voices of three unforgettable women. María Alejandra Barrios Vélez conjured a world I didn’t want to leave.” —Katie Gutierrez, national bestselling author of More Than You’ll Ever Know
“A stunning, vivid debut, The Waves Take You Home is an authentic, rich exploration of ancestry, responsibility, immigration, home, food, womanhood, history, and so much more. It tugged at my heartstrings and made me reflect on my own life choices, whether they were made out of love or fear and if they were truly mine at all.” —Janelle Williams, author of Gone Like Yesterday
“The Waves Take You Home is a sweeping story about learning to trust yourself in a world haunted by the weight of expectation and legacy. On their journey to save their failing restaurant, Violeta and her family discover what it means to carry the memories of ancestors within us and how those memories may serve to guide us on our true path—to root us in place, in love, and in community. Barrios Vélez’s debut speaks also to larger themes of immigration and inheritance: what we lose and what we gain when we follow our heart.” —Christine Kandic Torres, author of The Girls in Queens
“From the moment Vi stepped off the plane in Barranquilla, I felt as if I had come along for the journey. The wonderful descriptions of the town, its people, and Caminito’s traditional Colombian dishes made me wish I was visiting for real. I especially enjoyed the supernatural element to this emotional story about going back home to discover who you were always meant to be.” —Annette Chavez Macias, bestselling author of Big Chicas Don’t Cry