Midway through the year, how are my “most anticipated” books coming?
I get swept up in the buzz surrounding the “Most Anticipated Books” every year, but I always have my own such list, too. Rarely does it stay the same, though. My list is constantly evolving and includes some titles I never actually get to. That’s why, this year, I want to do something different. I’m going to tell you about some of the books from my list that I’ve managed to read so far — and whether or not they lived up to the hype.
The Man Who Could Move Clouds by Ingrid Rojas Contreras. The moment I found out Contreras was writing a memoir and that it centered on her grandfather — a curandero in Colombia — I did mental backflips calculating how soon I could get a copy. I finally did, and readers, I was not disappointed. If anything, her memoir exceeded my expectations. I felt so at home in this story of Contreras’ family history that it felt like my own. I didn’t want it to end.
How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz. I am fresh from writing a review about Cruz’s forthcoming novel. I had no idea that the author of Dominicana (one of my favorites from 2019) was working on a new one, let alone publishing it this September! So, I jumped at the chance to get an early copy, and I’m so glad I did. Reading about Cara Romero, the main character, and her struggles as an immigrant mother gently crushed me into the ground. I’ve still not recovered from reading it and don’t think I ever will. This book didn’t match the hype, it exceeded it.
Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine. I was introduced to Fajardo-Anstine in 2019 through her Sabrina & Corina. I was blown away by that short-story collection and so was incredibly excited about her debut novel, Woman of Light. Of course, it did not disappoint! Fajardo-Anstine is quickly showing us that she’s an author interested in writing Latinx folks into the lands we have always known. This novel, which centers an Indigenous Chicano family, has the mood of a classic legendary Latinx story and packs a punch that proves Fajardo-Anstine can square up against any contemporary writer. She can do it all.
Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera. One of the ways I learn about upcoming books is through authors I follow on Instagram, so when Naima Coster, the author of What’s Mine and Yours (a personal fave and a most-anticipated book of 2021), posted about Neruda on the Park, I knew I needed to read it. She did not lead me astray! This novel explores themes of family, love, and gentrification and is easily one of my current favorites.
All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews. I’m going to cheat a little bit because this novel initially wasn’t on my “most anticipated” list. But then author and memoirist Mira Jacob asked me if I’d heard of it. She was so intrigued by its first page that she sent me a picture of it. After I read it, I knew I needed to read the whole book. I’m thrilled I did — it’s now one of my all-time favorite queer novels. It’s such a stunning, nuanced story about friendship, love, and finding yourself and your family of choice. I don’t ever want to stop talking about it.
Okay, that’s my list up to now! I’d love to know 1) what’s on your list, and 2) if, after reading it, you think it lives up to the hype!
Lupita Aquino — better known as Lupita Reads — is the co-founder and current lead of LIT on H St. Book Club at Solid State Books. She is a passionate reader active in both the local and online book community through her Instagram blog, @Lupita.Reads. You can also catch her tweeting about books over at @lupita_reads.