>No lack of conflict here. Lola is the rebellious teenaged daughter of a single Dominican mother in New Jersey. They’re both hard to get along with and there’s a little brother in the mix, Oscar, who’s going to grow up totally screwed up. Lola’s mother has breast cancer and it neither mellows her nor softens Lola toward her. Lola runs away but is brought back and sent to Santa Domingo to live with family to help straighten her out. Up until this point the story is terrific. The reader keeps waiting for mother and daughter to kill each other. But the daughter’s transformation in Santa Domingo—I’m not buying it. Near the end, Lola tells the reader: “But that’s not what I wanted to tell you. It’s about that crazy feeling that started this whole mess, the bruja feeling that comes singing out of my bones, that takes hold of me the way blood seizes cotton. The feeling that tells me that everything in my life is about to change. It’s come back.” Which is a fabulous paragraph and although the ending doesn’t quite deliver on what this paragraph promises, it does elevate the story (despite that transformation I don’t buy).
June 11 and 18, 2007: “Wildwood” by Junot Díaz