Thirty Talks Weird Love

By Publishers Weekly

Debut author Narváez Varela’s inventive novel in verse plays with poetic form and time travel to detail a Mexican teen’s struggles with self-love and depression. In 1999 Cuidad Juárez, where “girls disappear like water/ down the drain,” 13-year-old Anamaria Aragón Sosa’s aspirations contain the same undercurrent of fear that permeates her hometown: one of future uncertainty. While Anamaria has a talent for poetry, she expends most of her energy striving for the top spot on the school honor roll rather than giving voice to her worries and the “clawed sadness” that haunts her. That all changes, however, when she begins receiving a series of unexpected visits from a woman claiming to be her future self, who brings with her advice, cryptic warnings, and a glimpse at what Anamaria may become. Using a mixture of structures and styles (including free verse, prose, erasure, and concrete poems) that both keep the narrative fresh and express Anamaria’s innermost thoughts, Narváez Varela fashions a thoughtful and candid portrait of a girl battling depression in a “red cruel beautiful mother beast” of a city. Much like plumbing the contents of a poet’s composition notebook, this layered story rewards multiple reads.