Garber, Romina. Lobizona: Wolves of No World. Wednesday Books, 2020. 400p. ISBN: 9781250239129. $16.99. HS *****
As an undocumented immigrant from Argentina, Manu and her mother try their best to go unnoticed in Miami. Manu has never met her father, whom her mother tells her is from a dangerous crime-family. One day, Manu’s mother is picked up by ICE. While Manu tries to stay safe, she begins to trace her heritage—and finds a hidden school of brujas and lobizones (witches & werewolves). What’s even more shocking: she is one of them.
Lobizona is a beautifully written novel about an undocumented Argentine immigrant who discovers she’s a lobizona—a female werewolf. While uncovering secrets about her father’s lineage, she discovers that she is half human and half werewolf. According to tradition, only girls are witches and boys are werewolves. Manu not only has to grapple with the newfound realization that she isn’t human, but also that she isn’t supposed to exist. Her existence as a lobizona mirrors her existence as an undocumented immigrant. This was a creative and unique way to explore identity and the undocumented experience.
Lobizona is heavily inspired by Argentine folklore and has #OwnVoices Argentine representation. The novel follows Manu as she joins a school for brujas and lobizones. While there, she tries to find out the truth about her mysterious father, her heritage, and her powers. Meanwhile, she is desperately trying to figure out how to rescue her mother from ICE. There’s a lot going on in Lobizona, but Romina Garber handles these complex themes with care and attention. This novel also normalizes menstruation, which is wonderful to see in a YA novel.
The first in a series, Lobizona is a lush, beautiful YA novel that balances contemporary with magic. It touches on family, gender, identity, first love, culture, and so much more. It has a romantic subplot and contains some violence and suspense. The cast is almost entirely Latinx, and there are several queer characters. Lobizona is perfect for teen readers who enjoy magical school settings and are looking for a newer, more diverse series to fall in love with. I’ll also recommend it to fans of Anna-Marie McLemore and Zoraida Cordova.
-Ari Nussbaum, Hayward Public Library