Featured Review: Thirty Talks Weird Love (Alessandra Narvaez Varela)
About This Book:
A 13-year-old girl growing up in Mexico is visited by her 30-year-old future self in this powerful Young Adult novel in verse about accepting yourself.
Out of nowhere, a lady comes up to Anamaria and says she’s her, from the future. But Anamaria’s thirteen, she knows better than to talk to a stranger. Girls need to be careful, especially in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico―it’s the 90’s and fear is overtaking her beloved city as cases of kidnapped girls and women become alarmingly common. This thirty-year-old “future” lady doesn’t seem to be dangerous but she won’t stop bothering her, switching between cheesy Hallmark advice about being kind to yourself, and some mysterious talk about saving a girl.
Anamaria definitely doesn’t need any saving, she’s doing just fine. She works hard at her strict, grade-obsessed middle school―so hard that she hardly gets any sleep; so hard that the stress makes her snap not just at mean girls but even her own (few) friends; so hard that when she does sleep she dreams about dying―but she just wants to do the best she can so she can grow up to be successful. Maybe Thirty’s right, maybe she’s not supposed to be so exhausted with her life, but how can she ask for help when her city is mourning the much bigger tragedy of its stolen girls?
This thought-provoking, moving verse novel will lead adult and young adult readers alike to vital discussions on important topics―like dealing with depression and how to recognize this in yourself and others―through the accessible voice of a thirteen-year-old girl.
*Review Contributed by Kim Baccellia, Staff Reviewer*
Thirteen-year-old Anamaria has an encounter from Thirty, a strange woman who insists she's from the future. Anamaria lives in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, well-known for its many lost girls. She's been taught not to talk to strangers, even one that claims she's her future self. Anamaria attends Sor, a private school, and pushes herself to be number one in academics. She also worries about the missing girls and other things like if she'll ever be good enough.
What worked: I loved this free-verse novel that shows Mexican Anamaria and the struggles she goes through. She's an overachiever at her private school. Anamaria stresses whenever she hears the whispers from her parents and other adults on the missing girls in her town. She also worries that her grades might alienate her from her friends. Plus, there's Alexa, the rich girl who has her own different types of struggles. The interactions with the girls at her private school are very realistic. So are the trials of Anamaria.
What I really loved about this novel is it explores body image and also depression. At first I thought Thirty came back to help Anamaria not become one of the 'missing'. No there is much more to the story. Thirty prods Anamaria to return to her creative side. Hence the free verse throughout this novel. The ending though digs deep into the guilt Anamaria carries when one horrific thing does happen to someone close to her.
The free verse includes black out poetry which is popular with this audience. Anamaria's words are strong and powerful on learning to love yourself. Plus, the plight of the many missing young girls in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico is addressed.
Powerful free verse novel of a young Mexican girl who learns from her future self that there is more to life than being first on a honor roll list. Addresses subjects such as depression, body awareness, friendship, and guilt in such a way that is sure to resonate with readers.
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