Lobizona by Romina Garber
Some people ARE illegal.
Lobizonas do NOT exist.
Both of these statements are false.
Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.
Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.
Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.
As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.
Expected publication: May 5th 2020 by Wednesday Books
I admit that while this book sounded amazing, I was a bit afraid to start it. I’m so picky with pacing, but I found this one hard to put down.
Manu has been shut away her whole life. She and her mom left Argentina and are undocumented immigrants in Miami. Manu is told that her father is dead and his people are looking for her. She’s not safe. Manu can’t even fit in if she tried. Her eyes jump out as unnatural to anyone that sees them. She’s thought to be a freak. Starting when she turned 13, Manu started getting her periods on the full moon. The first one was so painful that her mom found a drug to make her sleep for three days each time. While asleep, Manu dreams of this place with a citadel. It’s always the same and she doesn’t understand it. Manu’s mom is picked up by ICE and Manu escapes. Instead of going to hide where she was told, she followed a man that’s been outside her apartment building. She gets in his truck and ends up somewhere in the Everglades. She jumps out and is found by a boy with strange eyes. He thinks she is a new student that’s lost.
Manu has found herself in a school for brujas and lobizones. The myths she heard growing up are starting to be true. The girls are brujas and only boys can be a lobizon. They’re taught separate. The brujas use magic and the lobizon are more like their protectors. Manu wants to find her mom and get her out of ICE custody, but she can’t get away. She lies about her name and pretends that she already knows how to use magic. Her lies can only last so long before the truth comes out. Manu starts hearing her father’s name at the school, too. He was a leader who wanted change, especially with gender roles. He hasn’t been seen since before Manu was born. Now she wonders if he’s really dead.
Manu makes friends for the first time and everyone is so loyal. They risk their own safety to help Manu when they find out what she is. Manu is a result of a human and lobizon having a child. There were only a couple references of that happening and they’re considered to be illegal. If Manu is found out, she’ll be killed. There are some big surprises in store for Manu and everyone around her. She also starts to fall in love and is conflicted. Her friends also have their own secrets and they all want things to change.
I’m going to leave the world and magic a bit vague since it’s really interesting to read about it throughout the book. I loved the focus on undocumented and illegal status mixed with the mythology with the brujas and lobizon. The author’s writing pulled me in and I found it hard to put the book down at times. I think it would have been 5 stars, but I found a couple things to be a bit too repetitive. It never took away from the story though. I cannot wait to see what happens to this wonderful friend group in book two. I loved Manu’s strength and her growth throughout the book.
Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for my review copy. I gave this book 4 1/2 stars rounded up to 5 stars.
Warnings for sexism, immigration and ice issues, bullying of people who don’t fit in (freak, etc), medicine trafficking, parental trust, talk to periods and bad cramping, laws forcing marriage and having children (no same sex couples). There are probably things I’m forgetting about and I apologize for that. I was tired when I finished the last hour+ of the book last night.
Have you read Lobizona yet? Is it on your TBR? I encourage everyone to read the author note, too.