Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Mario Alberto Zambrano
Eleven-year-old Luz hasn't spoken since it happened; instead, she uses a deck of Lotería cards and writes a journal entry for each card (minus one, which is missing). The entries are related to the cards and slowly we come to find out more about Luz, her older sister Estrella, her mother and father, her aunt Tencha, and their family friends. We discover that Luz loves to sing with her father, who has a job at a plant but who has always wanted to be a painter. We learn that Estrella acts like a young lady even though she is not a teenager yet, that the family comes from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, where they still have family. The card for La Muerte foreshadows the destruction of the family, without even a death occurring in that chapter. Throughout the book you wonder why Estrella is in the hospital, why Luz is being kept at a center, why she hasn't spoken, why her father is in jail, and where her mother is. Some of the stories are too short and, I feel, should have been longer in order to include the symbol on the card more solidly in the story, but the book is very well written and the story is a heartbreaking one.
One a personal note, I was caught by surprise when I realized that the story takes place in the neighborhood where I grew up, and the family is from a region in Mexico near where my own family is from. At times, I thought I might have known the author, the story was so familiar.