29. The Madonnas of Echo Park

by Brando Skyhorse

I have been talking a lot about this book at work because it just excites me. One of the marketing blurbs about it that I read said that it will do for  Mexican-Americans what Junot Diaz’s   The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (which I LOVED) did for Dominican-Americans. What that means is that there isn’t a lot of mainstream fiction that displays the lives of  the various ethnic communities in this country.  Especially of the non-white ones.

What makes this book special is the author’s note at the beginning that explains the childhood incident that provoked Skyhorse to write these stories.  It is brilliant and that’s all I will say about that.

The Madonnas of Echo Park is a collection of related, intertwined short stories that follow the lives of the Mexican residents of this neighborhood, a community in Los Angeles. Yes, there are day-laborers, maids and bus drivers, but, like the neighborhoods we all live in, their lives and motivations are diverse.  The one event that all of this revolves around is the accidental murder of a toddler in front of the local corner store.

The first line sets the tone – We slipped into this country like thieves, onto the land that once was ours.

I’m going to say this word again, Brilliant. Go buy this book right now.

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