Date Completed: 4/16/16
I really enjoyed this book. It was filled with drama, and at time had some grammatical mistakes that were hard to overlook, but the the overarching themes made this book really successful in my mind.
A fast paced book, Beyond the Gardens is the story of a latina girl, Esperanza, and her experience outside of the barrio she grew up in. Esperanza is a college girl who moved away from home to take on new life experiences and explore her interests. Her roommate starts of as this foreign experience that rubs her the wrong way and ends up being on of her best friends. Meanwhile, Lopez explores all the hardships of being a latina girl who is a first-generation college student and how Esperanza’s past interlocks with her present and future. Many of the struggles Esperanza has reflect the troubles many college girls face, although some are unique to her situation as first-gen latina college student. All of her struggles are of course tempered by her relationship with her new roommate and boyfriend.
This novel was very easy to read and felt just as fast-paced as college does. Esperanza’s character development was great, and more than that she was easy to relate to. I didn’t like the general discussion around the men in her life. I’m not sure that there were enough strong female relationships, and it seemed like the men took up too much space in this story. However, I would definitely recommend this book to someone who wants a love story.
Sandra Lopez was first published in 2008 with her novel Esperanza, of which Beyond the Gardens is the sequel. Much like Esperanza, Lopez was raised in the Hawaiian Gardens outside of LA. You can find out more about her from her website.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.