30 Aug / The Family Izquierdo by Rubén Degollado [in Booklist]
Their collective story begins in McAllen, Texas, just seven miles from the U.S./Mexico border. For generations before, Octavio Izquierdo’s predecessors “used to come and go, crossing freely, still in their own country,” before an “imaginary line” delineated nations and separated families.
In 1958, Octavio is claiming “a piece of land here in Tejas” for himself, wife Guadalupe, and their firstborn, Gonzalo. There they eventually raise 10 children, then welcome their children’s spouses and their grandchildren. Their successes, alas, will invite envious curses.
Papa Tavo, the patriarch, will be robbed of his resilience, unable to protect and provide, forcing Gonzalo prematurely into manhood and an anger that never fully dissipates. Oldest daughter Marisol almost destroys herself with diet pills. Violent nightmares keep daughter Dina trapped in her own home. Siblings and in-laws bicker and forgive (enough); cousins save one another.
Rubén Degollado’s absorbing novel resembles deftly interlinked short stories with impressive, nonlinear chapters that could easily stand alone. That he favors the older Izquierdo children here suggests a sequel might prove necessary to assuage inspired, curious readers.
Review: “Fiction,” Booklist, August 2022