Lobizona is a book that’s been on my radar for months now! It’s a book about a girl’s whose very existence is illegal. Tackling issues of immigration, magical powers, and sexism, Lobizona is a fantastic debut! Keep reading this book review to find out all the reasons I loved Lobizona.
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 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 buried 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 bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual 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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Lobizona is a book about immigration and borders, secrets and powers, fear and trepidation, family and friendship. I loved how Garber wove immigration, existence, and revolution into the plot both in contemporary Miami and this secret world Manu uncovers. Lobizona has everything I love – a timely discussion about immigration, a magical school setting, and a girl who tackles sexism. This book is multi-faceted and every time you think you get a grip, it mutates before your eyes and you love every second.
In Lobizona we are able to witness Manu’s character growth as she searches for a family, home, and her identity. Her story is one of discovery and identity as Many discovers her illegal existence in both worlds and the ways she has balance her safety in being seen and her desire to live without fear. I found myself absolutely falling in love with Manu as she has to navigate these different pieces of herself and the secrets she hides. But I also loved the friends she makes along the way, the people who support us and encourage us to open our heart.
Lobizona explores themes of immigration and sexism. Not only is Manu’s existence illegal, but her time in Miami is one of fear and running. A life where trying to chase a different life, one of opportunity, and freedom is also one of fear. It also tackles the sexism Manu comes up against in the secret world. The ways our gender roles limit us and force us into cages. At the same time as she must fear for her existence, Manu is offered a chance at hope. A way that her constant balance between safety and standing out could make a splash.
And, in general, I loved how Garber tackles this issue of safety versus standing out. Manu must consistently choose from the very moment we meet her. In her world, standing out could be the thing which jeopardizes our security and safety. Discovery is dangerous. How can Manu tread this treacherous divide?
The entire time while reading Lobizona, I appreciated Garber’s clever use of fantasy to talk about these issues of strict gender roles, of a society that seeks to eradicate shades of grey, and the borders we erect around ourselves. Sometimes it just takes a spark to ignite the rumblings around us in the brush on the forest floor.
About the Author
ROMINA GARBER (pen name Romina Russell) is a New York Times and international bestselling author. Originally from Argentina, she landed her first 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.