A 13-year-old girl growing up in Mexico is visited by her 30-year-old future self in this powerful Young Adult novel in verse about accepting yourself.
Out of nowhere, a lady comes up to Anamaria and says she’s her, from the future. But Anamaria’s thirteen, she knows better than to talk to some weirdo stranger. Girls need to be careful, especially in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico—it’s the 90’s and fear is overtaking her beloved city as cases of kidnapped girls and women become alarmingly common. This thirty-year-old “future” lady doesn’t seem to be dangerous but she won’t stop bothering her, switching between cheesy Hallmark advice about being kind to yourself, and some mysterious talk about saving a girl.
Anamaria definitely doesn’t need any saving, she’s doing just fine. She works hard at her strict, grade-obsessed middle school—so hard that she hardly gets any sleep; so hard that the stress makes her snap not just at mean girls but even her own (few) friends; so hard that when she does sleep she dreams about dying—but she just wants to do the best she can so she can grow up to be successful. Maybe Thirty’s right, maybe she’s not supposed to be so exhausted with her life, but how can she ask for help when her city is mourning the much bigger tragedy of its stolen girls?
This thought-provoking, moving verse novel will lead adult and young adult readers alike to vital discussions on important topics—like dealing with depression and how to recognize this in yourself and others—through the accessible voice of a thirteen-year-old girl.
Francisco X. Stork, author of The Memory of Light
A lyrical, deeply-felt portrayal of a young woman’s love for a broken city and a broken self, and the hard-won emergence of hope.
Denise Chavez, bookseller, activist, and author of Loving Pedro Infante
Devastatingly profound, at once exuberant and heartbreaking, Thirty Talks Weird Love, is filled with linguistic pyrotechnics and an expansive heart. Cd. Juárez/El Paso del Norte is elevated, and celebrated by Alessandra Narváez Varela , with a deep ferocity of understanding, mercy, and love. She holds the pulse of Border life powerfully in her hands. Healer she has become through her words.
Debut author Narváez Varela’s inventive novel in verse plays with poetic form and time travel to detail a Mexican teen’s struggles with self-love and depression…Much like plumbing the contents of a poet’s composition notebook, this layered story rewards multiple reads.
Ruth Quiroa, School Library Journal
This novel uses magical realism and multiple poetic forms in telling 13-year-old Anamaria Aragón Sosa’s story. Set in Cuidad Juárez, Mexico in 1999, the work focuses on a time of fear as girls and women disappear daily, particularly those who are poor with dark skin. The sudden appearance of a woman claiming to be Anamaria’s own 30-year-old self lends mystery to the plot. Thirty speaks cryptically to Anamaria, offering advice, encouragement, and a composition notebook for writing poetry. Mostly, she urges her to “just love you,” a phrase the girl considers as her parents work long hours at their restaurant to afford her private school. Yet Anamaria’s self-loathing increases as she experiences constant humiliation from a girl in her class, and the cold ambivalence of teachers and administrators. Her parents think she was born with an old soul, a seriousness that grows into severe anxiety with vivid nightmares, sleeplessness, academic obsession, and uncontrollable scratching. Thirty repeatedly urges Anamaria to speak to her parents and to tell them she is depressed. This is a moving story of a girl on the cusp of womanhood who learns to empathize with others’ sadness and finally to care for herself. VERDICT A must for every library given its timely themes, international setting, and authentic protagonist voice.