Tuesday, June 29, 2010

THE MADONNAS OF ECHO PARK: REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDED
THE MADONNAS OF ECHO PARK

BY BRANDO SKYHORSE

ABOUT THE BOOK:

We slipped into this country like thieves, onto the land that once was ours. With these words, spoken by an illegal Mexican day laborer, The Madonnas of Echo Park takes us into the unseen world of Los Angeles, following the men and women who cook the meals, clean the homes, and struggle to lose their ethnic identity in the pursuit of the American dream. When a dozen or so girls and mothers gather on an Echo Park street corner to act out a scene from a Madonna music video, they find themselves caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting. In the aftermath, Aurora Esperanza grows distant from her mother, Felicia, who as a housekeeper in the Hollywood Hills establishes a unique relationship with a detached housewife.

The Esperanzas’ shifting lives connect with those of various members of their neighborhood. A day laborer trolls the streets for work with men half his age and witnesses a murder that pits his morality against his illegal status; a religious hypocrite gets her comeuppance when she meets the Virgin Mary at a bus stop on Sunset Boulevard; a typical bus route turns violent when cultures and egos collide in the night, with devastating results; and Aurora goes on a journey through her gentrified childhood neighborhood in a quest to discover her own history and her place in the land that all Mexican Americans dream of, "the land that belongs to us again."

Like the Academy Award–winning film Crash, The Madonnas of Echo Park follows the intersections of its characters and cultures in Los Angeles. In the footsteps of Junot Díaz and Sherman Alexie, Brando Skyhorse in his debut novel gives voice to one neighborhood in Los Angeles with an astonishing— and unforgettable—lyrical power.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Born and raised in Echo Park, CA, Brando Skyhorse is a graduate of Stanford University and the MFA Writers’ Workshop program at UC Irvine. For the past ten years he has worked in New York publishing. His next book, also forthcoming from Free Press, is a memoir about growing up with five stepfathers.

REVIEW:


Brando Skyhorse gives readers a book in which each chapter could almost be a short story if not for the fact that he expertly weaves them all together into one amazing book, THE MADONNAS OF ECHO PARK. Basically, Skyhorse writes about two families and their stories link together to create what is ECHO PARK through the author’s eyes. Through his broadly assorted troupe of players their views of the culture in the Echo Park neighborhood are conveyed to the reader making readers feel as though they are a part of the community themselves.

This community is basically focused around the lives of Aurora Espinoza, who grows up in constant battle with her mother, Felicia, and whose absentee father narrates the opening of the story. Also, there is poor lonely Beatriz who buys coats to warm her soul after an unnerving encounter with the Virgin Mary at a bus stop. Gang member Manny Mendoza is the one who fires the bullet that mistakenly kills a 3-year old girl dancing with a group on a street corner to a Madonna song, which was actually recorded in that area. Mendoza goes on to brag about his accidental deed and it results in consequences he never expected from his tough son who is shocked by this news. The community also includes Manny's estranged brother Efren, a “by-the-books” bus driver who is intolerant of Mexicans who don‘t have the proper paperwork (thus very timely with all the talk of illegal immigrants currently going on).

Many more of Skyhorse's characters are connected in ways they don't even realize and share parts in each others stories. Aurora actually closes the story by basically pulling together all the pieces that were found within the novel itself. Readers are led to understand how even casual events in our lives can fit into a larger piece of a whole that we aren’t even aware of. Brando Skyhorse does an amazing job of creating a stimulating community that offers several different points of view on just what being Mexican in America is like. He speaks of those who think “how can you lose something that never belonged to you?” to those who “incredibly find it“.

GIVEAWAY

THANKS TO CAITLIN AT SIMON
AND SCHUSTER, I HAVE THREE
COPIES OF THIS INTERESTING
NEW BOOK TO GIVE AWAY!



--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES
---INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
--ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE TO
COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!

HOW TO ENTER

+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FOUND INTERESTING ABOUT THE INFORMATION AND/OR REVIEW FOR THE MADONNAS OF ECHO PARK ABOVE

+1 MORE ENTRY:
BLOG OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND THEN COME BACK AND LEAVE A LINK

+1 MORE ENTRY:
COMMENT ON SOME INTERESTING INFORMATION YOU READ ABOUT IN THE INTERVIEW WITH BRANDO SKYHORSE IN THE PUBLISHERS SIMON & SCHUSTER'S WEBSITE HERE


GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
6 PM, EST, JULY 12

50 comments:

Pamela Keener said...

I loved the movie Crash and love the way the characters evolved. I would love to read a story of this type. This book sounds intriguing.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290(at)comcast(dot)net
Swagbucks + 5

Pamela Keener said...

I love the way he talks about what each character favorite music themes were and how he wrote them as he was listening to their music.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290(at)comcast(dot)net

traveler said...

This story and the characters makes this fascinating and unique. Thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

He was raised by his mother and grandmother as well as 5 stepfathers. This interview interesting. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Laura said...

I like how a tragic event of a young girl being shot brings about changes in a community and its people. Very sad but often a blessing in the end and would like to see how this story plays out.
I am a follower.
Laura
laura.leahj@gmail.com

Julie P. said...

I actually went to a panel that Mr. Skyhouse was on a few weeks ago and thought his book sounded fascinating. I am dying to read this. I like that it's based on his childhood home.

bermudaonion said...

I actually saw Skyhorse on a panel and listening to him and reading your review has made me very anxious to read this book. No need to enter me.

Margie said...

I like the idea that several separate stories come together in the end. You would probably get to know each character quite well.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

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Margie said...

The author grew up with two strong women in his life, his mother and grandmother. He is more sympathetic to the women's point of view, and likes to write from that viewpoint.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

holdenj said...

I think the description of it being about two families and community make it interesting.
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

Benita said...

I found it interesting that each chapter can almost stand on its own as a story in and of itself.


bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Benita said...

I learned that it took Brando Skyhorse 9 months to write this book.


bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

rubynreba said...

He wrote about the landscape in Madonnas from memory since he hadn't been to Echo Park in 12 years.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

Interesting how each chapter could stand alone yet they all fit together.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

Linda Kish said...

This statement intrigues me: Readers are led to understand how even casual events in our lives can fit into a larger piece of a whole that we aren’t even aware of.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

He wrote about the neighborhood in which he grew up...Echo Park area of Los Angeles. Although he had been gone for 12 years, the neighborhoods remain pretty much the same (quite true).

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Steve Capell said...

I found his name “Brando Skyhorse” too be interesting! With a little research I found out he was renamed after his first stepfather. I also found out that he is working on second book, a memoir about growing up with five stepfathers. This book sounds like an emotional read and also one that can shed some light on the cultural dream of becoming an American! Thanks for hosting this review and giveaway.

steven(dot)capell(at)gmail(dot)com

Glenn said...

Sounds like an interesting debut novel. Thanks for the giveaway.

glenn_pessano AT yahoo DOT com

Sarah E said...

I found the location of Echo Park interesting, as I've driven past it on the way to Dodger Stadium.

Please enter me in this giveaway!

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

Sarah E said...

I tweeted:

http://twitter.com/saemmerson/status/17555181788

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

Sarah E said...

In the interview, I found it interesting reading the list of authors that have influenced Brando Skyhorse.

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

Amy said...

I find it very interesting how some of the characters in the book interact with and form relationships with other characters who, initially, seem so different than them but in reality aren't, such as how Felicia forms a relationship with the woman whose house she cleans, a detached housewife. This is similar to real life and really piques my interest in the lives of the characters.

~Amy
Aimala127 AT gmail DOT com

Amy said...

In Simon & Schuster's interview with Brandon Skyhorse I found his author influences, such as Faulkner, Woolf and Chandler to be exceedingly interesting but the most interesting was that he is a big fan of Charles Schultz' "Peanuts Gang"Comic Strip!
I just love Snoopy and his pals!

Aimala127 AT gmsil DOT com

Margie said...

+5 for the 4th FB Fun (entry 2)
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Emma Pridemore said...

I have been wanting to learn more about how Mexicans live in USA and the difficulties they must have.

Emma
Felinmanor@aol dot com

urbanL said...

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LAMusing said...

Love the location - this is part of the California I grew up in, yet it's rarely used in fiction.

adrianecoros(at)gmail(dot)com

Jolee said...

I find the idea of the absentee father narrating some of the story to be interesting. joleehamlin at comcast dot net

catss99 said...

the part about it being similar to the movie crash stuck out to me as a good thing
amanda
catss99@yahoo.com

Christine H said...

I find it interesting that this is a real place and he grew up there.

chirth7@yahoo.com

Christine H said...

https://twitter.com/Romantic73/status/18272023418

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Christine H said...

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Christine H said...

During my early apprenticeship learning to write, I overdosed on William Faulkner (Absalom, Absalom! is my favorite novel), Virginia Woolf, and George Orwell.

chirth7@yahoo.com

Shirley said...

I'd like to read aboiut life in East L.A and from a man who lived there.

shundelt@yahoo.com

Shirley said...

https://twitter.com/Grandmamaof10/status/18272616579

shundelt@yahoo.com

Shirley said...

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Shirley said...

I wrote about the landscape in Madonnas from memory. I haven’t been to Echo Park in twelve years.

shundelt@yahoo.com

cherdon said...

The Madonnas of Echo Park are
stories that intertwine, creating a subtle surprise in each chapter. All generations are represented here, so all sorts of stories are told.
The characters cross paths as they move through their lives in quiet
irreverence. There is a strong sense of community.

I would love to read this book.

cherdon@sympatico.ca

Debbie F said...

The struggles of a community and their fight to adapt to life in America is an interesting story. I would love to win this. Thanks!

dcf_beth at verizon dot net

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