The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse
Free Press, New York, 2010
Borrowed from the library.
The “Madonnas” are a group of mothers and daughters who gather in front of a market that was featured in Madonna’s video “Borderline”. They gather there to sing and dance.
..There was something magical about it, a place in our neighborhood worthy of being on TV, and not because someone had been shot or killed. We agreed it would be fun to bring our daughters there. Aurora wouldn’t come but Ana’s daughter did. Two mothers became three, then four….Mothers and daughters chatted together on a street corner in what was considered a dangerous part of town day or night, in loud sassy conversations, both groups wearing acid-washed skirts, see-through mesh tank tops, traffic cone orange spandex tights…from page 47.
A collection of linked chapters following a group of people, this novel takes place in a part of Los Angeles we rarely see, unless you are Mexican growing up in LA. Three women, the Esperanzas, struggle with their histories, drift apart and reconnect in a story graced with suspense, dream-like images, and magic. I am impressed by Skyhorse’s love of his characters, by his ability to give voice to both Mexicans and Americans, and especially his ability to write the lives of these women and girls. This is an exceptional first novel.