Family Lore

HarperCollins/Ecco. Aug. 2023. 384p. Tr $30. ISBN 9780063207264.
With the intricate family dynamics of Julia Alvarez’s works and the magical realism of Isabel Allende’s oeuvre, Acevedo’s first foray into adult literature is both classic Acevedo and something entirely new. Flor Marte, who has the gift of knowing when someone will die, is inspired to organize a living wake for herself. The novel chronicles the days leading up to the event as her Dominican American family—including her sisters, daughter, and niece—tries to decipher what Flor’s request really means. Flor isn’t the only Marte woman with a special ability: Pastora can read people’s truths; Camila has an affinity for herbs. Each of the Marte women is struggling with a secret, and they all come to a head in the days surrounding Flor’s wake. The alternating viewpoints reveal hidden family history and trauma and how they have echoed their way into the present generation. The setting alternates between the Dominican Republic and New York City and takes place across multiple time lines. The novel’s language is magnetic, and the masterly character development will make readers want to be part of this complicated family, issues, and all. Covering the topics of sisterhood, immigration, female sexuality, and gender, this timely and nuanced work will resonate with young adults. There are several scenes of sexual intercourse that make this more appropriate for older teens.
VERDICT Purchase where Acevedo’s novels are popular and where magical realism and family dramas are in demand.

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