“Sabrina and Corina” by Kali Fajardo-Anstine is as magical as literary fiction can get. While each character in every story is different from the rest, they still flow together as they universally focus on the relationships between various Latin women with Indigenous descent residing in Denver, Colorado.
These relationships vary from sisters to distant cousins to mother and daughter to grandmother and granddaughter. This familial aspect in this collection is what makes these tales of Latin magic feel stronger than life itself.
In “Sabrina and Corina”, you will find stories that cover an ex-stripper who moves to Cali with her daughter where she develops an intimate relationship with the landlord. There are two daughters who deal with their mother’s deathly illness. And, in the title story, you will watch Corina, a talented makeup artist, fall under her family’s pressure to do her dead cousin’s makeup for her funeral.
While these stories are not fairytales, they portray the bonds of family through the gathered strength of these main female characters. Fajardo-Anstine, a native Colorado resident, shows us her talent through the delicate crafting of these select stories.
One of my favorite stories was ‘Sugar Babies,’ which was actually the first story in the collection. It showcased a young girl who had to take care of bag of sugar as if it were a child for a school assignment. Through this, she develops a deeper understanding of the painful parts in her life such as her mother who disappears randomly and won’t return for years.
“Sabrina and Corina” is a quick read with a total of eleven stories. Each story is filled with its own sorrow and battles. But, the vivid descriptions of the Colorado mountains immerse the reader in this work of art from the very beginning. Despite the differences in every story, the commonalities overrule and make the reader feel as though each story is connected through setting, family, ancestry, and culture.
The love in this collection is what makes it stand out far amongst others. Instead of bringing down the reader through tragedies and struggles, Fajardo-Anstine was able to showcase struggle through overflowing love. Yes, some of these stories are sad–they will pull at your heart. But, they give the reader a sense of comfort because of the unbreakable bonds that are portrayed.
This collection of short stories is a great insight into Kali’s writing and it should prepare readers for this talented writer’s future work since she is currently working on a historical novel. I know I’ll be on the lookout for more of Kali’s writing.
Rating: 4.8 out of 5