Title: Lobizona (Wolves of No World #1)
Author: Romina Garber
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Wednesday Books
No. of Pages: Hardcover; 400pgs
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Date Read: August 4, 2020
Get Lobizona HERE
Some people ARE illegal.
Lobizonas do NOT exist.
Both of these statements are false.
Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s life on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.
Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.
Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem–which leads her to a secret world within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a burma and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her usual eyes allow her to belong.
As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal… it’s her entire existence.
Thanks so much to Wednesday Books for having me on this blog tour and for sending me an e-galley to review!
The first thing I ever knew about this book was that it had an absolutely GORGEOUS cover. That was pulled me in and I’m so incredibly that I had a chance to read it!
Lobizona is an adventure into the life Manu, a girl has been in Miami as long as she can remember with her mother living undocumented with Perla in El retiro (the name of the retirement apartments). She’s a bright girl who lives a thousand lives through the book she reads. Whenever she goes out she’s always careful behind her sunglasses so no one sees her eyes, her large a sun shade of gold. But soon, everything changes. Perla is attacked and Manu is on the run. When she finally finds her mom, she realizes that her mom has been hiding the truth from her and all of a sudden one of their worst fears come true. Manu then finds herself running: running from ICE in the back of a truck that she guesses has to do with her father’s family that her mother has been running from for years. All of a sudden she finds herself in the middle of the Everglades at some ruins she’s only seen and explored in dreams. And she realizes that there are some more things that have been kept from her… and they could mean life or death when now at a hidden school of brujas and lobizónes in the middle of the Florida Everglades. The myths were real, and Manu has to quickly figure out and come into her own. What happens next was a story unlike any that I’ve read with witches and werewolves.
I loved how Garber brought everything together. From the start of the book we’re given pieces of what either exactly is happening to Manu and small pieces of who she actually is and her father’s family. Throughout the book, Garber completely pulls everything together, but in ways that you wouldn’t expect until you look back. AND I LOVED IT.
One of the main things I loved in this story is how relatable Manu is. She’s 16/17 years old and she just wants to find belonging. In the apartment she builds up what it must be like to be the ‘other Manu’ and she’s constantly reading a learning. She KNOWS that her eyes are not normal, she stands out and doesn’t belong. She KNOWS what an undocumented status means in this country, she stands out and doesn’t belong. She KNOWS what it would mean for others to find her and see her as ‘other.’ When she arrives at _____ she suddenly see hope that maybe she finally belongs somewhere, only to be criticized and again, finds out, that in this new world, she is still considered ‘other’ and doesn’t belong. But even in her ‘otherness’ there are people that she finds acceptance with and who end up becoming her best friends who have her back when everything seems to be going wrong.
I work with teens. The themes all throughout Manu’s story are of identity, belonging, wanting to fit in, and coming to terms with who she as ALL things that teens are dealing with. And now with COVID, they’re searching all the more. This is hands down a book that I would hand a teen. There’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll be able to relate in some way. And MAYBE. HOPEFULLY. They’ll see in themselves through Manu that what they may perceive as negative or a weakness or ‘other’ in themselves could be their greatest strength and positive trait.
But it’s also not JUST Manu. All of the main and secondary characters were SO great. Their introductions, their character development over the course of the book, their interactions with one another were so well done. It wasn’t forced like some books have been recently and it just flowed really well. Saysa, Tiago, and Catalina were the perfect friends and companions for Manu. The friendships and relationships she builds over the course of the book, after not ever truly connecting with anyone other than her mom and surrogate grandma was so brilliant. And I loved them.
I also loved the Argentinian culture, customs, and lore woven throughout the story. One thing that I love about reading is that through books, you get just a small glimpse of other cultures/customs/lore that you typically might not see if you’re not immersed or not intentional about learning it. Which leads to more learning and searching. I had never heard of the lore or superstition of the seventh son becoming a werewolf before this book, but it’s so interesting! I also loved the inclusion of Spanish within the dialogue.
Also, side note, the magic system and world building in this book were GOLD.
Garber has written a book that I couldn’t put down. I can’t wait for the release of book two to see where Manu and the crew head next.
Romina Garber (pen name Romina Russell) is a New York Times and international bestselling author. Originally from Argentina, she landed her writing gig as a teen–a weekly column for the Miami Herald that was later nationally syndicated–and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Her books include Lobizona. When she’s not working on a novel, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.
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, allin a rich Latinx setting!Lilliam Rivera, author of DEALING IN DREAMS and THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ