Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse

The prologue of this novel absolutely captured me. Then I realized that, although connected, each chapter was a "short story" which I do not care for.  Echo Park is the Los Angeles neighborhood and is the setting for this novel-in-stories—a portrayal of the lives of Mexican Americans who live and work there.
Madonnas of Echo Park, The

Skyhorse (Mexican himself, but given his stepfather’s last name) weaves his characters—migrant farm workers, gardeners, dishwashers, bus drivers, house cleaners, gang members—in and out of his stories in various time frames. Felicia, the cleaning woman for a wealthy couple who becomes the wife’s only real friend, and Felicia’s mother, who sent Felicia away when she was four. And Efren, a bus driver whose strict adherence to the rules of the Los Angeles MTA insulates him from feeling remorse over a preventable tragedy, and his brother Juan, a gang member who escapes by joining the army. Each is trying to make a life where “everything is paid for in cash and sweat.”

Despite not caring for short stories, I found this book intriguing enough to keep me reading.  If someone likes short stories, then I think they would really like this book as it is well written and weaves the stories together very well.

Rating: 4 Good