Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Book cover

Santos’ ancestors are Aztec healers, but he need not look very far back to find evidence of resistance. Don Julio escaped Mexico after his family perished in the Mexican Revolution. On the day he died, he wounded his 4-year-old grandson, Santos, with a long and gratifying life full of healing. Now Santos is a high school junior and a curandero, or faith healer. But there is talk in his hometown of Southland, Texas, about a monster who leaves carcasses behind. Santos is no monster, but for his spiritual healing rituals, he does make animal sacrifices. While Santos tries to defuse the town’s interest in the supposed monster, a traumatized boy who doesn’t speak comes into his life looking for help. Dulcero experienced such terrible things in Honduras that he has shut down. Santos’ interest in the boy grows even as his premonitions indicate that something isn’t right. Still, he’s trying to navigate a regular teen’s life of school and friendship; his best friends may know that he’s gay but not that he’s a curandero. The narrative unfolds gradually, but through establishing connections between the characters, it makes them feel lived-in and three-dimensional. The descriptions of the town of Southland make it feel like another character, one that is deeply relevant to the plot.

By cb2gp