This is a story told in turns by two narrators: Alice, a forty-year-old woman who, despite her good fortune in life still finds it wanting, and Carla, a thirteen-year-old who knows more about wanting than Alice ever will. This story put me through the ringer – there is abject poverty, unrelenting sadness, and overwhelming despair. It is a story almost without hope, but for a tiny glimmer that Alice and Carla cautiously protect, like a tiny votive candle flickering in a pitch-black night.
At times, I wanted to yell at Alice, because she had no idea how good she really had it, and Carla was barely holding it together, despite heroic efforts on her part to be a parent in her own parent’s absence. (Did I mention her mother left her and her brother in Honduras with their elderly grandmother to start a new life in Texas, and things get dramatically worse for Carla after?) So, this was a sometimes-frustrating story to read, but there was always a little voice in my head reminding me that this is indeed the reality of life for so many people. This is not a story playing out in politics or the media, this is a story from the heart. And yes, there are so many loose ends that are neatly tied together in the end, and there is, in fact, a very predictable happy ending. But honestly, by the time I got there, a little happiness was just about all I could handle.