Hello readers! Back in September and October I set out to read Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of everything during Latinx heritage month. After reading many other books, enjoying halloween, and starting the Raven Boys series, I finally finished this novel. This novel is written so poetically you’ll want to reread passages over and over.
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Hello readers! Today I’m going to review an upcoming latinx book. Originally, I planned to read Somewhere Between Bitter during Latinx heritage month, but because I have no self-control, I began another book series (Hidden Legacy but Ilona Andrews). And my carefully crafted tbr was swallowed into the abyss. If you would like to read those reviews, you can find them here.
Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet is the newest novel by Leakan Zea Kemp set to debut April 2021. And the cover is simply gorgeous!
I have been following Yesika Salgado since the release
of Corazón. I loved Yesika’s personality and the small snippets of poems she
shared on her Instagram, convinced me that I needed to add this book to my
list. A few years pass, I find copies of Corazón at my college bookstore and
contemplate buying a copy. I decide not to. Yesika releases Tesoro in 2018 and
Hermosa this year.
Finally, I decide to purchase Corazón after catching a
sale in September. And I wish I had read it while I was in college and yearning
for Latinx voices in literature.
Corazón contains a collection of love poems ranging
from ex-lovers, family, loss, El Salvador, and Yesika’s life in the Los Angeles
neighborhood of Silverlake. But most importantly, Corazón explores Yesika’s
life as a fat, brown, Salvadorean, poet. Yesika provides a very unique and
much-needed voice to poetry.
The majority of Corazón’s poems deal with ex-lovers
ranging from fuck boys to happy and hard moments in relationships. However,
Corazón did not speak to me on the romantic level.
I have never had to heal from a breakup, nor have I
spent nights missing an ex, however, the nostalgic elements of Corazón, touched
my heart. These moments include drinking café con conchas, watching parents
carefully slice thorns off of nopales, and even picking Mangos at a
grandparent’s house. These are all moments I have of my childhood. Although
Yesika’s memories are of Salvador, and mine is of Mexico, I think this
resemblance in our lives is pretty cool.
One of the reasons I loved Corazón, was that Yesika
has a way of capturing moments that make you feel like you lived through them
By dividing Corazón into different sections, poems
follow Yesika’s path to heal herself. In this sense Corazón is very similar to
Rupi Kaur’s, “Milk and Honey” and for fans of that collection I would recommend
I try to stay away from dystopian novels for the most part because the plot in those books make me put on my tin foil hat, and there is only so much time in the day to follow a conspiracy trail through the internet.
However, We Set the Dark on Fire gave me a different kind of chill. The story follows Daniela Vega a recently graduated student of the Medio school for girls, in which young women learn to take on the role of the Primera or Segunda wife of their husband. Medio society practices polygamy in honor of their Sun God who married the Princess and the Moon Goddess. According to legend, the Sun God respected both of his wives and treated them equally although their titles of Primera, first, and Segunda, second, suggest a hierarchy the women are not in competition with each other.
Daniela is married off to Mateo Garcia, the son of the head of Medio’s military, and is poised to be the first wife of the Medio’s future president. Mateo’s second wife is none other than Carmen Santos, Daniela’s archnemesis.
Medio is on the brink of a rebellion. For years those living in border towns and the other side of the island have been mistreated. Their place in Medio society is very low. As a result, the rebellion group, La Voz has risen to fight against a government that oppresses them.
On the eve of Daniela’s graduation, La Voz attacks her school and makes contact with Daniela. Daniela was born on the other side of the Medio border and immigrating with her family to a border town. Later on Daniela’s parents bought her forged documents. Without Daniela’s forged documents, she would have never been considered to attend such a prestigious school. La Voz uses this to blackmail Daniela into becoming one of their spies. As events in the novel progress, Daniela starts to feel less guilty about betraying her country.
The plot of this novel is already very interesting, but the caramelo on top was the romantic subplot. After Daniela and Carmen marry Matteo, they go from enemies to friends to lovers. This is my all-time favorite trope, and it is well written in We Set the Dark on Fire. And by well written I mean there is angst and a slow burn romance.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
I think the reason I ended up enjoying this novel so much, aside from the romance, was that the author embedded real issues that the Latinx community struggles with. The pain of bordering crossing, uprising against crooked governments, the prejudice of coming from the wrong side of a border, the guilt of having to succeed because if you don’t your parents struggle is wasted. I am glad these themes came up in this novel and were brought into the struggle of this fictional world. It made the characters and the experiences that much more real.
This is the second to last book on my Latinx tbr and soon I will be reading Yesika Salgado’s Corazon. I cannot wait.