When I first decided to read this book by Kali Fajardo Anstine, I was mostly intrigued because a lot of the Latina content creators I follow were mentioning it. I purchased it and didn’t even read the blurb, assuming it was a novel about two women.
Well, let me be the first to explain this is actually a collection of short stories and I don’t think I have a read a piece like this ever in my life. Sabrina and Corina spans across different women, in different seasons of their lives and yet ties them together with similar tragic, painful, and often violent experiences.
A little warning, if you can’t take in violence against women then this book may not be good for you at this time. The violence isn’t graphic, but it is gut-wrenching. As someone who experienced inter-family violence and then was a DV advocate, I found myself wincing during some of the stories. One in particularly, I actually skimmed because issues with eyes freak me out and I didn’t want that story haunting me.
But even that story and the others were written in a way that gave honor and agency to the characters involved. The book rocked me. It left me feeling pained and sometimes sad but those are not necessarily emotions to always avoid. I say all that to encourage people to read it even though it does discuss primarily incidents of DV in many stories. Other stories aren’t violent, but they are so sad and sometimes pitiful. It just made me feel so strongly, which is why I loved this book.
For those that haven’t read it, the stories peek into the lives of Latinx/Indigenous women living in Colorado or close to the desert. They are living through poverty, violence, and all the ways a patriarchy abuses and mistreats women of color. One decision the author made was to make almost all the men White, especially the violent ones. I saw it as a larger symbolism of American patriarchy and how it treats these groups of women. I thought it was an apt and powerful choice.
I also loved how many times over, the solution to the pain is for the character to go back to her roots–whether it’s using ancient remedies to cure lice or remembering oral history to pass a course, Farjado-Anstine seems to say that our solutions/powers/perseverance comes from knowing our selves and who we come from. That is a powerful statement in a society that quite literally tried to kill away indigenous peoples.
What I enjoyed the most is that this is the first time I see Latina women–not just young girls or coming of age stories, but typical, hard-working, harder-loving women–experiencing life like I have seen it. This book is really a treasure.
Did you like it? What was your favorite story?