Everyone should experience at least one time in their life, the weight and significance of a book. I’m lucky that I both enjoy reading (doing a lot of it) and that’s it is part of my job description, so having these experiences with books has happened more than once. Sometimes they are unexpected. For Perez’s book, I don’t even know who or where the recommendation came from to add it to my TBR pile, but boy am I glad it did.
The emotional toll this book took on me after eking out time to finish it as soon as I could is invigorating. Though the book’s summary discusses the school explosion in 1937 in Texas, it is about the characters and their obstacles, not closing chapters that center on the explosion that create the turmoil. Perez speeds the book up at times with fast-moving changes to the narrating characters, which include Naomi, the Mexican half sister to twins Cari and Beto, Beto, Henry, the twins’ biological father, Wash, Naomi’s Romeo to her Juliet, and the appropriately named “The Gang”, essentially town bystanders watching events unfold from a safe distance but not withholding judgement or disdain.
The tumultuous atmosphere of discrimination against blacks and Mexicans plays an equally traumatizing role as loss and heartbreak. Naomi is bursting with emotion that is pushed down for the sake of the twins until is is unleashed by meeting Wash. Wash is black. Naomi is Mexican. Henry wants to make his deceased wife’s daughter his new wife, but Naomi knows what consequences this will have and what her true feelings are knowing their dark history. But the book is layered and these are just the surface elements at play. It is dark and beautiful, rich and haunting.
This week, I’ll post six sensational emotionally draining books. I bet you’ll see one there that you already heard me discuss.