Thirty Talks Weird Love

By Kirkus Reviews

Thirteen-year-old Anamaria grapples with conflicting demands and desires in this novel in verse.

In the ’90s, Anamaria’s hometown of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, is rampant with missing girls and women. A cloud of fear looms over Anamaria’s daily movements and is reflected in the worried eyes of the adults who love her. Amid all this she is an honor roll student at Instituto Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, one of the top private schools in the city. Into all this drops Thirty, a 17-years-older Anamaria who arrives as a mentor-cum–fairy godmother to help young Anamaria avoid some of the mistakes she feels she made in her youth. Writing predominantly in short lines of free verse, Narváez Varela weaves a story of a girl on the edge: on the edge of womanhood, on the edge due to fear, on the edge with her friends, and on the edge of deciding what she wants from life. With shape poems and blackout poetry adding variety, the author tackles classism and colorism in Mexican culture, the community’s collective anxiety around the missing girls, and internal fears brought about by social and academic stress. From the loss of a dear friend to suicidality, many heavy issues are addressed through Anamaria’s humanizing teenage eyes in this novel loosely inspired by Narváez Varela’s own experiences growing up in Ciudad Juárez.

A gritty and absorbing tale of learning to love oneself and one’s roots, warts and all.