- Lobizona by Romina Garber
Garber, Romina Lobizona. Wednesday/St. Martin's, 2020 [400p] (Wolves of No World) Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-250-23912-9 $18.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-250-23914-3 $9.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 8-12
An ICE raid on her undocumented mother's workplace sends sixteen-year-old Manuela Azul on the run, and she's astonished to find her way to a secret magical school in the Everglades where her extraordinary, conspicuous gold-and-silver eyes fit right in. The girls there are brujas (witches), the boys are lobizones (werewolves), and parts of her secretive human mother's past begin to make sense as Manu learns about a magical world. The magical society's rigid gender binary, already under question by its younger generation, is threatened when half-human Manu turns out to be not a bruja but a lobizona, and her existence attracts the attention of both Cazadores (magical law enforcement) and a secret group of would-be revolutionaries who follow in the footsteps of a mysterious missing man named Fierro. As a politically exigent #ownvoices novel (inspired by the folklore of Garber's Argentinian birthplace) with a rich exploration of hybrid identities, it's an astute and absorbing piece of magical realism. The magical school story, complete with a first romance and a girl-joins-the-boys'-sportsball-team plot, treads well-worn territory, but it will nonetheless appeal to a broad audience. There's certainly no lack of timely, discussion-worthy material here; Garber's interweaving of Spanish and English dialogue is utterly seamless; and a girl werewolf book to offer alongside Klause's Blood and Chocolate (BCCB 7/97) is always very welcome indeed.