Corazón

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 too.

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 Corazón.

Until next time continue living in libros,

Gaby

All the reason to read “Don’t Date Rosa Santos”

A sleepy beach town, a love interest who can bake, chismoso viejietos, Don’t Date Rosa Santos has it all.


Don’t Date Rosa Santos is my favorite book this year!

Rosa Santos lives in the small seaside town of Port Coral, Florida. The town is very reminiscent of Star Hallows with its array of supporting characters and yearly festivals. What mainly sets this book apart from other books set in small towns is that the majority of the characters of Port Coral are of Latin American descent. Because of the unique cast of characters, readers are immersed in a world of guayaba pastelitos and characters who code-switch between English and Spanish.

Rosa is a high school senior with dual enrollment at a community college, which allows her to take her classes online and earn college credit. Rosa is in the middle of finalizing her enrollment to the University of Charleston when she learns that the town may have to cancel their annual Spring festival and sell the Marina. Rosa convinces the town to rebrand its spring festival as a fundraiser. This puts Rosa in the path of Alex Aquino, a new cutie in town. Alex assists Rosa with the fundraiser, but despite her crush, Rosa tries to keep Alex at a distance because of her family’s curse. All the men in Rosa’s family have tragically died because of the sea, and since Alex is a sailor himself, Rosa wants to keep him safe.

“The height difference is very tol and smol. You could climb him or something.”

Don’t Date Rosa Santos pg. 137

Rosa also struggles with her own identity in this novel. Her grandmother, her main caretaker, refuses to talk about Cuba, the country she was forced to flee. Rosa is curious about her roots, so she signs up for a study abroad trip to Cuba through Charleston, the only problem is, Rosa does not know how to tell her grandmother.

As mentioned earlier, the Santos family is cursed. Rosa’s pregnant grandmother, Milagros (Mimi), leaves Cuba with her husband in a small boat he constructed, but while navigating the dangerous waters, he drowns. Mimi gives birth to Rosa’s mother, and together the two of them make a home for themselves in Port Coral. In Port Coral, Mimi keeps herself occupied by being the town’s curandera or a healer.

Rosa’s father was a sailor, who owned a boat at the Port Coral Marina, however when Rosa’s mother is pregnant, her father goes missing at sea. Rosa is born without knowing her father or grandfather. Rosa’s mother is an artist who travels all over the U.S painting murals, but when Rosa turns 9, her mother decides to permanently leave her with her grandmother. Unlike Mimi, who deals with her trauma by healing others, Rosa’s mother’s solution to her trauma is to keep moving, only staying in Port Corral as long as necessary.

The Santos family curse is more of an inherited trauma passed down through the generations. The citizens of Port Coral know that Rosa should never go near the ocean, and when Rosa develops a friendship with Alex, the viejitos begin to gossip about them because he is a sailor.

I wish I could have a concrete answer on whether this curse ends up effecting Rosa’s life, but the story ends before I could find out. The story concludes on a hopeful note, and I believe the Santos women are working to heal from their trauma.

Besides the small-town vibe of Port Coral, this book also has a lovely description of food. I was very much craving a Cuban pastelito throughout various points in the novel. I might just have to make a trip to the local Cuban bakery. If you have not had the pleasure of trying a guava pastelito or Cuban food, in general, I highly recommend you try it. It’s delicious.

“Mrs. Peña delivered a shrimp ceviche served alongside plátano chips still warm from the fryer and crispy chicharrones”

“She left, and I spooned a mountain of ceviche onto a plátano and shoved it in my mouth. The lime and salt sang together in a concert.”

Don’t Date Rosa Santos is a great book to binge read. The plot is interesting, but so are the different characters. If you want a good read for Latinx Heritage Month, Don’t Date Rosa Santos is the perfect book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Until next time continue living in libros,

Gaby

Limon y Sal

Limón y Sal

A Dia de Los Muertos Short Story

The fragrant aroma of pork stewing with garlic and chiles stirred me out of my deep sleep. The best kind of mornings started like this. My stomach grumbled just imaging myself devouring a bowl of steaming pozole and munching away on a crunchy tostada.

I lay in bed for a few more moments allowing my eyes to blink and adjust to the morning light before I kicked the covers off and rolled myself off the bed, feet first. Ama always said I must have been a cat in another life because despite, flinging myself off my bed, I always landed on my feet. I felt a soft hum vibrate against my feet and I glanced down at my cat Gabriel, who lay curled up in his small bed on the floor. I had startled him out of his nap.

“Sorry, Gabriel but I smell pozole,” I apologized to my friend. I skipped in a hopscotch game all the way to my dresser and grabbed my socks. Normally I wouldn’t have bothered with covering my feet as I preferred walking around the house barefoot, but we were in deep fall and mornings sometimes felt more like winter. Touching my bare feet onto the cold hardwood floor felt like walking on melted ice.

I padded my way over to the kitchen in my pale pink socks and by the abundance of sunlight, already streaming in through the open curtains, I realized morning had come and gone; and I had continued sleeping. Just the way I liked it. Behind me, I heard the soft tip-tapping of Gabriel’s nails on the wooden floor as the ball of fur followed me. Given that he had a stronger sense of smell than I did, it was odd that he hadn’t bothered to escape my room until now.

I made my way over to the altar Ama had set up next to the window. Although Dia de los Muertos was a two-day celebration at the beginning of November, my mother liked to set up the altar at the beginning of October that way we could pay our respects for the whole month.

“Hola Abuela!” I waved at the framed picture of my grandmother. Ama liked to keep the altar right by the window claiming the natural sunlight was better for the abuelos something to do with crossing over into our world. I had tuned out the conversation when she had explained it to me preferring to contemplate what I would eat for lunch the next day instead.

Our altar was set up on a small table covered with a red knitted blanket Ama had created years ago but never finished. Ama had knitted it with two bundles of yarn before she had called it quits and decided the blanket was long enough. It wasn’t long enough to even qualify as a throw blanket, but we continued to use it to protect our tables during holiday altars.

On top of the fabric sat a framed picture of my abuela next to a tall sunflower. The picture had been taken shortly after her marriage to my grandfather, in the small town where they married. Ama said this town was particularly known for all the patches of wild sunflowers. Although, the official flower of the dead was la flor de cempasúchil, an orange marigold, sunflowers were abuela’s favorite, so it was only right to add a sunflower to her altar. The candle Ama lit for abuela was a dark purple as that had been her favorite color. It had been burning on the altar since Halloween. In case abuela decided to come early. And a bowl of salt in case unwelcome spirits tried to enter our home.

“Buenos días Selena,” Next to abuela’s frame was a picture of Selena Quintilla who was not a related to us at all but since Ama always played Bidi Bidi Bom Bom on Saturdays mornings, when my brother and I helped her clean I thought it was pretty rude not to invite her to our celebration this year since she always filled our home with sweet melodies.

The odd thing about our altar today were all the lemons surrounding the images of our loved ones. Some lemons were sliced open and placed on a plate with pan dulce while others were on the floor in front of the altar in a semi-circle.

“A fin ya te despertaste mija,” Ama scolded as she watched me from the stove. She stood peering over a large metal pot and with the lid in one hand and an equally as large wooden spoon in the other. “I need you to go down to the panderia, the one next to the library, and go buy some more pan dulce,” Ama reached into the pocket of her blue apron and pulled out a wrinkly twenty-dollar bill.

“Me? What about Ángel?” My brother was an early raiser and more functional in the mornings. In the mornings I sometimes got lost on the way to the bathroom which was right next to my room.

“I had to send Ángel on an errand. Your tio asked if we could pick up Luisto from soccer practice.” Luisto was our only younger cousin who lived in the same city as us. Tio Omar had put Luisto in soccer when he realized our primito was too full of energy and could never be satisfied with a coloring book. Now our uncle was hoping that his son would become the next Lionel Messi. Although after watching his game last week I wasn’t sure whether tio’s dream would ever come true. Luisto preferred to throw the soccer ball with his hands into the goal post rather than kick it. But Luisto was still young and had time to improve.

“Oh. Well, how did we run out of pan dulce so fast? You bought so much for tonight,” she had bought huge boxes of Pan de Muerto from the supermarket a few days ago, they were big enough to feed multiple families. Additionally, she had also bought a lot of colorful conchas too so the tia could drink with their cafe and chisme.

Ama clicked her tongue and let out a disappointed hiss. “AAH pues tu pinche gato,” she gave Gabriel the stink eye who in response swished his tail and continued to eye the pot of pozole as if everything was right with the world, “ate the pan de muerto I had set up in front the altar. So I had to put the ones I was saving for the party on the altar.”

Fucking Gabriel, he was the kind of cat that didn’t beg and preferred to swipe and run. Although we had both fallen asleep early last night, he must have escaped out of my room and gone to pick at the altar.

“Okay, Ama let me just go put on a sweater and some shoes. Is that why you put all those limones in front of the altar?” Gabriel, the cat, was not easily spooked but, for some reason, he was not a big fan of lemons. I had a theory, that he had stolen a lemon from the kitchen and stashed it under my bed for safekeeping thinking it was sweet like mangos but after sinking his teeth into it, he was disappointed by the bitter fruit. There was some truth to this theory because I had found a moldy lemon under my bed once with suspicious-looking teeth marks in the flesh.

“Apurate mija, I let your brother take the car, and the bus is coming soon.”

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