Author: Kimberly Garza
Published by: Henry Holt and Co. on Aug. 9, 2022
Genres: General Fiction
Format: ARC, Paperback
Source: Henry Holt and Co.
Book Rating: 8/10
Welcome to Galveston, Texas. Population 50,241.
Carly Castillo has only ever known Albacore Avenue. Abandoned as a child by her Filipina mother and Mexican-American father, Carly returns each morning from her nursing shift to the house she shares with her grandmother, Magdalena. But when Magdalena slips into dementia, Carly begins to imagine a life elsewhere. Jess Rivera, her boyfriend and all-star shortstop turned seaman, treasures the salty, familiar island air. Years ago, he had a chance to leave Galveston for a bigger city with more possibilities. But he didn’t then, and he sure as hell won’t now. Deftly moving through these characters’ lives and those of the individuals who circle them—Mercedes, Jess’s undocumented cousin; Kristin, Magdalena’s daytime nurse; Luz, the wife of Carly’s best friend; Schafer, Jess’s coworker out on the gulf—Garza presents a mosaic depiction of everyday survival in Southern Texas. As word spreads of a storm gathering strength offshore, building into Hurricane Ike, they each must make a difficult decision: board up the windows and hunker down, or flee inland and abandon their hard-won home.
Unflinching, lyrical, and singular, The Last Karankawas is a portrait of America scarcely witnessed, where browning palm trees and oily waters mark the forefront of ecological change. It is a deeply imagined exploration of familial inheritance, human perseverance, and the histories we assign to ourselves, establishing Kimberly Garza as a brilliant new literary voice.
Compelling, absorbing, and complex!
The Last Karankawas is an intriguing, tender tale that sweeps you away to Galveston, Texas during 2008 as the city braces for Hurricane Ike and immerses you into the joy, heartbreak, struggles, and lives of multiple generations of people from the Filipino and Mexican communities, especially one young girl, Carly Castillo, who yearns to live anywhere else, even though her grandmother who raised her believes they are descendants of the Karankawa Indigenous tribe and thus naturally have strong ties to the land they inhabit.
The prose is expressive and smooth. The characters are multilayered, conflicted, and kind. And the plot told from multiple POVs is an affecting tale about life, loss, love, community, regrets, acceptance, forgiveness, familial drama, and friendship.
Overall, The Last Karankawas is a touching, astute, lovely debut by Garza that does a wonderful job of delving into all the messy emotional and psychological entanglements that exist between family members, friends, our histories and the places we call home.
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to Henry Holt and Company for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.