It is not a YA book, but this quote from the NY Times review sold me:
“Gabriel García Márquez meets Umberto Eco meets Jorge Luis Borges for a sprawling magic show.”
I pictured exotic (non-American) civilizations, the romance of the past, and indulgent adult sentences that seem to make me as a reader feel like I am floating in the buoyant, salty waters of my youth as the humpbacks sing their mournful songs in the ʻAuʻau channel. The promise of this book is that I am free and unencumbered to slow down and get pulled in. Seems silly even for me, but that is what Gabriel Garcia Marquez meets Umberto Eco meets Jorge Luis Borges
I got to the first page and I need to write this paragraph down somewhere so that when I am old or sad or scared that I will not be able to write, I can at least read something that is good and pure and magic.
Shortly after the Civil War, an outbreak of cholera had taken my mother away. We buried her in Montjuic on my fourth birthday. I can only recall that it rained all day and all night, and that when I asked my father whether heaven was crying, he couldn’t bring himself to reply. Six years later my mother’s absence remained in the air around us, a deafening silence that I had not yet learned to stifle with words. My father and I lived in a modest apartment on Calle Santa Ana, a stone’s throw from the church square. The apartment was directly above the bookshop, a legacy from my grandfather that specialized in rare collectors’ editions and secondhand books–an enchanted bazaar, which my father hoped would one day be mine. I was raised among books, making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day. As a child I learned to fall asleep talking to my mother in the darkness of my bedroom, telling her about the day’s events, my adventures at school, and the things I had been taught. I couldn’t hear her voice or feel her touch, but her radiance and warmth haunted every corner of our home, and I believed, with the innocence of those who can still count their age on their ten fingers, that if I closed my eyes and spoke to her, she would be able to hear me wherever she was. Sometimes my father would listen to me from the dining room, crying in silence.