2 out of 4 stars
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Gabriela is dissatisfied with her life in Mexico. She knows that her dead-end life will change for the better if she goes to America. When the legal system fails her, she resorts to illegal methods to cross the border. However, there is no such thing as a free lunch. The coyotes who offer to take her across the border give her two options. She has to either pay a large sum of money or she has to become their drug mule. Poverty forces Gabriela to choose the latter, and so, she gets caught up in the web of drug trafficking. Things only get worse for her, and she has to do awful things to survive. When her daughter Sarita is born, Gabriela decides to leave her dark past behind. Will the past leave her be?
Esperanza by Tommy Tutalo is a tale of survival. With the themes of illegal immigration, drug trafficking, human trafficking and prostitution, it depicts the conditions in which people are forced to live. Through Gabriela’s story, we witness the harsh realities of the world and the awful things people have to do to ensure their survival. It also gives us a peek into the world of the drug cartels and how they manipulate innocent people to work for them. Even with all these dark themes, Esperanza, in its heart and soul, is the story of the love between a mother and a daughter.
The best thing about this book is its way of storytelling. The events aren’t linear. We keep oscillating from past to present, and this makes things interesting. The reader has to keep an eye out for the characters and the small things because they later turn out to be a pivotal part of the story. The writer has put a lot of thought into the details and connected everything intricately. By the end, all the dots line up, and the story comes full circle.
Esperanza has strong content and a well-structured storyline supported by a plethora of complicated characters. In Gabriela, we see a helpless woman who has to choose between dignity and survival. We see her struggling against overwhelming situations that she encounters on every turn of her life. In Sarita, we see a little girl who tries to hold on to her innocence while terrible things happen to her. Apart from the protagonists, we meet Dante, a struggling artist who is trying to let go of his dark past. We see these characters rise and fall; we watch them grow as they struggle against their demons. Even the supporting characters have their own story that has brought them to their current predicament. Every character has an important part to play in the story.
Even though there are so many good things about it, Esperanza misses its mark because of one major flaw- its slack writing. It is monotonous and, at times, unexciting. Yes, there are a handful of lines in the book that are deep. For example, “In the beginning, the dream was a nightmare.” However, most of the times, it feels mundane. There are a lot of high-tension scenes in this book, but they lose their impact due to ineffective writing. Some scenes should make us cringe, while others should make us swoon. Some should make us smile, while others should leave us teary-eyed. Esperanza would’ve been one hell of a roller-coaster ride if the writing style had the necessary flair. It just feels like a case of miscommunication between the writer and the reader. The writer has great content, a good story full of well thought-out characters, but he can’t effectively relay it to the readers.
For me, writing is the most important aspect of a book. No matter how simple a story is, if it is well-written, it can leave a lasting impact. Esperanza loses some points on this, and that’s why my rating for this book is 2 out of 4 stars. If I could, I would give it a 2.5. There is a lot of heart and soul in this book. People who like to read the stories with strong protagonists persevering in the face of insurmountable odds will like it. It is also for those who would like to get an insight into the world of drug cartels. Perhaps, unlike me, others might enjoy its writing style. However, to me, it is a story that holds a lot of promise but lacks proper execution.
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