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May 16, 2024

Oye by Melissa Mogollon ~ a Review

by MK French

As the youngest in a large Colombian American family, Luciana is rarely the one taking charge of anything. But with her older sister Mari away at college, it's now up to her to help evacuate when a hurricane is heading toward her South Florida home. In the middle of this storm, Luciana and her mother try to evacuate, but it becomes a journey and a chance to learn about family stories.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of Hispanic American literature novel Oye by Melissa Mogollon
May 2024; Hogarth; 978-0593594902
audio, ebook, print (336 pages); Hispanic American lit

Spanish for listen, the title Oye lends itself very well to the frequent phone calls back and forth within the novel. This sets up the tale to be something of a conversation that the reader is listening in on. There are no actions, no dialogue tags, and no descriptions. It runs the way conversation does, with occasional sidebar talk, and occasional italics for the other side of the conversation, but it's primarily Luciana talking to her sister beginning as she evacuates from Hurricane Irma. It takes a little while to realize how the novel is formatted, as it's different from what we're used to. Even so, conversations are still the way we share stories with each other, including important family information.

Luciana is a teen when this happens, and is less interested in family stories shaping them and more in what will happen in her senior year of high school. She doesn't want to deal with her mother, the casual homophobia, or being stuck in close quarters for an extended period of time. Following the hurricane is a health emergency that Luciana's mother wants to hide. She wants everything to be out in the open and true, and her mother goes into "beast mode" to hide the truth and put the best possible spin on everything. Being physically close to her grandmother, she learns more about the generational trauma that was hidden; each source has a slightly different variation on the truth, and we see the ripple effects down to Luciana and can extrapolate to her sister Mari. Each conversation gives us a greater picture of the family and how closely tied to each other they are. 

I really liked Luciana and her voice, and what we see of her grandmother. She's a feisty lady, ready to take on everything on her own terms. We slowly see Luciana absorb this viewpoint, becoming more confident in herself and closer to the family members she initially resented. She grows up, and I'm sure she and her family will handle the challenge together. 

Buy Oye at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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