Loteria by Mario Alberto Zambrano – Blog Tour and Book Review

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I received a free copy of Loteria from TLC Book Tours for my honest opinion.

About the Book:

• Hardcover: 288 pages
• Publisher: Harper (July 2, 2013)
Prepare to be enthralled by this lyrical, achingly human debut novel about a young girl’s remarkable resilience in the face of loss. Struggling to cope as her family falls apart, eleven-year-old Luz María Castillo retreats into her beloved set of Lotería cards—a Mexican game featuring riddles and vibrant images. Each card represents a different memory, and as Luz shuffles through the deck, she weaves her recollections into a compelling story of love, loyalty, tragedy, and hope.
By turns affecting and inspiring, Lotería is a powerful novel that heralds the arrival of an outstanding new writer, one who reminds us of the importance of remembering, even when we are trying to forget.

About the Author:

Mario Alberto Zambrano was a Riggio Honors Fellow at the New School and recently completed his MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop as an Iowa Arts Fellow. He is a recipient of the John C. Schupes Fellowship for Excellence in Fiction. Lotería is his first novel.
Find out more about Mario at his website and connect with him on Facebook.

My Opinion:

This is a powerful little book. I must admit that I think it was a bit over my head – it involves the slowly revealed tale of young Luz Castillo, currently in the custody of child protective services. Why? The reader doesn’t know yet – Luz refuses to talk. The bits and pieces of her life with her father, mother, sister and aunt are slowly told through her journal entries with the use of Loteria cards – a Mexican bingo type game.

Each chapter (and I use that term very loosely as some are mere paragraphs long) is introduced with one of the cards and Luz writes a bit about her life. The story is told through the eyes and thoughts of this 11 year old girl and the reader soon learns the horror of her life in a very abusive household. Her parents came to the US from Mexico to find a better life but they did not find it. The story Luz writes is rife with alcohol, tradition and her Catholic upbringing.

There is a fair bit of Spanish used within the story – some can be gleaned from context but without a knowledge of the language (mine is minimal – I took it in college) there is some googling to do to try and maintain the storyline.

The reader does feel a touch lost at first – at least I did as you just don’t know what is going on. You are given bits of information that you need remember as each card is revealed. It all comes together in a very troubling story with an ending that I didn’t see coming. Despite my feeling that a lot of things were over my head it was a book that caused me much thought and one I’ll keep to perhaps read again. I suspect that I might sort more out upon a second reading when I’m knowledgeable of the outcome and I can then better understand the beginnings.

It’s not a long read by any stretch of the imagination but it is most assuredly a thought provoking one.


You can see the Loteria Tour Schedule

You can purchase Loteria from Amazon.com

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Loteria from TLC Book Tours for my honest opinion.  I received no compensation for this post.


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