Sixteen-year-old Manu has spent her whole life in hiding; even as her period substantially changes her body each month, she cannot visit the doctor. She and her mother are undocumented immigrants from Argentina, though Manu has no memory of her early childhood there. Fearing deportation, they stick within the area around their Miami apartment complex, and Manu keeps her strange eyes covered—eyes that she inherited from her late father, once part of a powerful criminal organization. When the elderly woman they live with is sent to the hospital with a head injury and ICE takes Manu’s mother into custody, it is suspected that Manu’s father’s family is behind it all. Alone for the first time in her life, the girl embarks on a journey that leads her to a secret magical society of werewolves and witches straight out of the folklore she grew up on. In a timely work of magical realism featuring references to Borges and Garcia Márquez, Garber (the Zodiac series) tackles issues of nationalism, identity, and belonging. Armed with love for her family and from her new friends, Manu’s quest for belonging empowers her transformation from a girl in hiding to the symbol of a movement. This layered novel blends languages and cultures to create a narrative that celebrates perseverance. Ages 12–up. Agent: Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary. (Aug)
FALL 2020 KIDS' INDIE NEXT PICK
BUZZFEED, "13 Fantasy Novels You'll Love", "17 Summer Must-Reads For Fantasy Lovers", and "38 Great Books To Read This Summer, Recommended By Our Favorite Indie Booksellers"
THE NERD DAILY, "The Most Anticipated 2020 Book Releases"
BOOK RIOT, "20 Must-Read 2020 SFF Books", "Most Anticipated Books of 2020", and "Summer 2020 YA Books: Your Reading List is Hot, Hot, Hot"
LATINXS IN KID LIT, "2020 Titles By/For/About Latinx"
TOR.COM, "The 25 Most Anticipated SFF Books for the Rest of 2020"
SHE READS, "Most Anticipated Books of 2020"
Spring 2020 OKRA Pick
"In a timely work of magical realism featuring references to Borges and Garcia Márquez, Garber tackles issues of nationalism, identity, and belonging...This layered novel blends languages and cultures to create a narrative that celebrates perseverance." - PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (Starred Review)
"Garber’s gorgeous novel combines the wonder of a Hogwarts-style magic school with the Twilight-esque dynamics of a hidden magical species that has strict rules about interacting with the human world." - BOOKLIST (Starred Review)
"This genre-bending mashup will win over fans of swoon-y, suspenseful paranormal dramas." - KIRKUS
"A politically exigent #ownvoices novel...with a rich exploration of hybrid identities, it's an astute and absorbing piece of magical realism." - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Lobizona somehow loves its genre while simultaneously tearing it apart with werewolf claws, reveling in earthy magic and righteous anger." - NPR.org
"Steeped in Argentine folklore of lobizonas (werewolves) and brujas (witches), this is such an important story to tell, and it’s also an engrossing read. - BUZZFEED
"Lobizona by Romina Garber is the kind of book that digs its claws into you and leaves marks so you don’t forget what you just experienced...With Lobizona, Romina Garber is poised to become a strong literary voice of this era." - THE NERD DAILY
"Romina Garber's Lobizona is a young-adult fantasy novel of Argentinian folklore that doesn’t pull punches highlighting the plight of many undocumented immigrants in the United States." - USA TODAY
"Garber, who also writes under Romina Russell (Zodiac), uses exquisite prose to build an elaborate, gorgeous world that is likely to appeal to fans of Anna-Marie McLemore and Elana K. Arnold. Manu's exploration of her identityboth in Miami and elsewherereflects how Latinx communities have historically been and continue to be affected by U.S. politics. From the book's harrowing opening, Manu is set on a fantastical journey of self-discovery that subverts and reinterprets familiar fairytale tropes." - SHELF AWARENESS
“With vivid characters that take on a life of their own, beautiful details that peel back the curtain on Romina's Argentinian heritage, and cutting prose that shines a light on the difficulties of being the ‘other’ in America today, Romina Garber crafts a timely tale of identity and adventure that every teenager should read.”
–Tomi Adeyemi New York Times bestselling author of Children of Blood and Bone
“Romina Garber has created an enthralling young adult fantasy led by an unforgettable Latinx character Manu. In Manu we find a young girl who not only must contend with the injustice of being undocumented she also discovers a hidden world that may explain her very existence. I fell in love with this world where wolves, witches and magic thrives, all in a rich Latinx setting! Lobizona will surely place Garber alongside the Harry Potters of the world” –Lilliam Rivera, author of Dealing in Dreams and The Education of Margot Sanchez
Gr 7 Up—Lobizona and her mother are undocumented, living in the United States and doing their best to stay under the radar of immigration authorities. But Lobizona is not a typical teenager. Once a month, her mother keeps her heavily sedated for three days during her menstrual cycle, or at least that's what Lobizona assumes is responsible for her debilitating nightmares and unbearable pain. In actuality, Lobizona is not completely human. Half of her heritage comes from her father, a werewolf with a criminal past and ties to an Argentine mob family. Lobizona describes herself as a "Thing. Hybrid. Freakish. Hunted down and destroyed. I am illegal." It's only when she is invited to join a supernatural academy in the middle of the Everglades that she discovers who she really is and begins to make friends, fall in love, and learn to embrace the werewolf (or lobizona) part of her heritage. VERDICT Following "Harry Potter," a number of authors have tackled the idea of magical schools for unusually gifted children. It would be easy enough to toss this book into that ever-growing pile, but ties to current events make this both relatable and timely. Recommended.—Jane Henriksen Baird, formerly at Anchorage Public Library, AK
An Argentinian-folklore–inspired fantasy.
As undocumented immigrants from Argentina, Manuela Azul and her mother fear being deported back to their homeland, where the criminal associates who killed Manu’s father could find them. Because of her unique eyes—her irises are yellow suns and her pupils silver stars—she is confined in their tiny Miami apartment most of the time, wearing mirrored sunglasses on the rare occasions when she goes out. But when a loved one is attacked and her mother is taken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the young woman goes in search of answers and discovers that the world of the lobizones—Argentinian werewolves—exists. Infiltrating a magical school for werewolves and witches, she begins to uncover family secrets and the truth of her existence. Garber, who authored the Zodiac series under the pen name Romina Russell, has crafted a complex fantasy system in this series opener. Despite some missteps—plot twists that readers will see coming and italicized word-for-word English translations of Spanish that grow tiresome—this novel is filled with timely topics and nuanced characterization. Touching upon undocumented immigrants, rigid gender roles, sexuality, and mixed-race identity, its themes run deep. Refreshingly, the book also talks openly and in depth about menstruation, which is still fairly uncommon in YA literature. The entire cast is Argentinian or Latinx, with a range of skin tones.
This genre-bending mashup will win over fans of swoon-y, suspenseful paranormal dramas. (author’s note) (Paranormal romance. 14-18)