Hello readers! Did you love reading Love and Gelato by Jenna Eva Welch? Salty, Bitter, Sweet by Mayra Cuevas, may not be set in Italy or feature a dreamy soccer-playing Italian, instead it offers up the French countryside, a handsome Spaniard, and an aspiring chef.
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
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
fragrant aroma of pork stewing with garlic and chiles
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.
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
and I glanced down
cat Gabriel, who lay
curled up in his small bed on the floor. I had startled him out of
Gabriel but I smell pozole,” I
apologized to my friend. I
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
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
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.