Lobizona: Undocumented. Unprotected. Unafraid.

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If you enjoy magical realism, you will love Romina Garber’s newest book Lobizona. I have seen this title around on bookstagram for a while and the cover is what really drew me in. I absolutely love the art style, but the title seemed really interesting also. I was delighted to find the naked book is just as beautiful as the sleeve!

Romina Garber | Zodiac, Beautiful book covers, Book quotes

Netgalley gifted me a free e-ARC of this title, which I am so grateful for! It allowed me to start reading it, which sucked me in after the first few pages. I got about halfway through on Kindle before deciding to buy the physical copy. For one, I wanted to support this author (I devoured her Zodiac series a few years ago!) and two, I ended up taking a lot of annotations which I wanted to keep. And I bounced back and forth between the e-book and the physical copy; the e-book is amazing for reading in bed, but the physical is better for daytime reading (and is less of a strain on my eyes, TBH.)

“We use magical realism in our daily lives too. Consider our superstitions. We are always willing magic into reality—that’s our way.”

I love that this book was stippled with Spanish aphorisms and phrases, and included an impressive amount of vocabulary in-context to help teach Spanish to non-speakers. As someone who is constantly trying to improve my Spanish, this is something I really appreciate seeing in new books. Garber does it well, allowing the reader to infer meaning from context clues without needing to use a translator. However, I can really appreciate having the translation dictionary available if I do need it, conveniently built into my e-reader. It saves a lot of time not having to click out of the book, and as a visual learner I enjoy seeing side-by-side translations because it really helps me understand spelling and pronunciation.

Another thing that I loved about this book was name-dropping of famous and works of literature written by Latin authors. Books like One Hundred Years of Solitude and Don Quixote are read by the main character; important and overlooked authors that more people should know about and read! This is such a great way to introduce readers to Latin classics, and I will be looking forward to more book recommendations in the next installment of this series!

I’ve been trying to read Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece as slowly as possible so I can relish the writing, but it’s so good that I’m already two-thirds of the way through.

The entire novel raises questions on important issues, like gender, sexuality, and the complications that arise for Latin-Americans who grow up caught between two cultures. In the same way that Manu and her Ma tread between being Argentinean Americans, Manu must find balance between her human and werewolf sides. In the world of Lunaris, gender roles still dominate the culture: girls are Brujas and boys are Lobizónes. Manu is one of the first female werewolf’s and she has to overcome the “narrow and outdated approach to identity” that permeates Lunaris culture. Even the fast that her “irises are yellow suns and pupils are silver stars” contain contrasting symbolism and foreshadows the male-female dichotomy.

“But if no one knows we exist, how can the system ever hope to accommodate us?”

Identity is a large theme in the novel: Manu wants to belong, but must, above all things, be true to herself. Manu feels “suffocated” by her mother’s “invasive” gaze and feels as if she doesn’t belong. “I don’t fit into any of the groupings around me, and the things that make me different always seem to count against me.” Though she is forced out of her comfort zone, the path she finds herself taking is essential to her growth and will lead her to finding who she truly is. But there is danger in being the first of her kind, and the outdated laws potentially endanger Manu’s life. But as she finds friends whose beliefs align with her own she finds the comfort to “come out” as a female werewolf and is ultimately accepted and appreciated, despite her differences.

“You’re a wolf, you part of the pack, period.”

Though she is reserved at first, Manu believes she belongs in Lunaris. She makes friends with people who support her and defend her, and ultimately feels accepted once she reveals her secret. And not only do they accept her, they begin to follow her lead. When she challenges the binary norms and joins the team of boys, the desire for changes has an immediate ripple effect through her peers.

“She has the same abilities as any lobizón here.”

Femininity is another huge theme within this book. The first line of the book circles back to this theme, drawing a parallel between the lunar and the feminine: “I always bleed on the full moon.” Chapter transitions are divided into moon phases. Water is used to represent emotions, which are constantly compared to the changing tides. And I was so happy to see the normalizing of period talk. As a YA book that is a really important and underrepresented topic and I hope books start doing this more. When Manu feels “shameful or repulsive or wrong” about her body, be it her eyes or her menstruation, she is reminded that “it is only natural”. Perla recognizes the power in Manu and gives her the permission to take pride in her body.

“Your eyes are your lightning mark–be proud of them.”

Lobizona - Romina GarberBy the end of the novel, the reader can work out themes of gender and friendship, but more than anything this novel is about listening to your gut and following your own path. Not only must the characters support and accept each other — they must learn to accept and believe in themselves.

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