Lobizona

What I like the most is that it opens up the conversation around “illegal” immigrants and what it means to be undocumented and unprotected by the law.

READ IF YOU…

  • Want a werewolf retelling
  • Want supernatural elements with a Harry Potter feel

Title: Lobizona Author: Romina Garber | Rating: 3.5/5

Admittedly, this is best as a Halloween read than a February read, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. I got minor Harry Potter vibes, considering the main character gets transported to another dimension, where magic is the rule, not the exception.

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.

Manu has survived up until her teen years hiding out in her apartment with her mother “Ma” and surrogate grandmother. Her grandmother homeschools her, and her mother works as a cleaning lady in rich people’s homes. Manu has to hide because of her eyes: wildly yellow and strangely shaped, the mark of a strange creature.

Or does she?

Manu’s world is turned upside down when she learns her mother has been lying to her for years, about her job, about Manu’s identity, her father, and everything in between. In fact, much of Manu’s life feels like a lie. Then Ma is captured by ICE and detained, while Manu escapes and winds up in what seems to be another dimension.

Here, there are witches and werewolves, and people whose eyes look just like Manu’s, in all shades of color.

Manu then realizes that though these people look like her, she’s nothing like them. They’re magical, dangerous beings, and she’s, well, she’s just Manu.

Or is she?

Overall, a good YA read. I was expecting more Mexican Gothic but it ended up being something vastly different, which made it just as compelling. I did think it drew on too much in parts ,and I felt myself becoming impatient as things dragged on further than they needed to. For example when Manu finally figured out her identity, it’s far along in the book and i felt myself impatient at how long it took her.

There was also a Harry Potter parallel, which I didn’t mind so much, but also thought was weakly done. Even so, the read is a slow burn, and a decent one at that.

What I like the most is that it opens up the conversation around “illegal” immigrants and what it means to be undocumented and unprotected by the law. For that, I think the book is a damn good one and one that I hope spurs further social commentary. It’s a perfect novel for YA readers and introduces the concept of undocumented immigrants in the setting of a fantasy world, but one that still has implications for the characters.

If you want another werewolf retelling, check out What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo.

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