Sabrina and Corina is a collection of short stories about different Latina women living in the western United States. Most of the stories are bleak, featuring female characters who are poor, beaten down, and broken. Many of the women feel pushed to be in relationships with men for financial support, but these relationships aren’t healthy and end up hurting the women even more. Those who try to get by on their own don’t fare much better. Here are brief summaries of some of the stories:
- A girl’s junkie mother only returns to the house every once in a while, stays a few weeks, then disappears again for months.
- A woman has to apply funeral makeup on her dead best friend from childhood.
- A little girl gets lice every time she’s forced to visit with her poor half-brother. (Even though I was meh about the ending on this one, it was one of my favorite stories.)
- Two sisters have to come to terms with their mother’s terminal breast cancer diagnosis, while their father struggles to pay for her medical care.
And the sadness goes on. And on…
Honestly, I wouldn’t normally finish a book like this. It’s just too damn depressing. But the one saving grace is that at least some of the women are strong survivors. And it helps, too, that there are repeated themes of family loyalty, community, perseverance, and deep respect for grandparents and tradition.
The stories are beautifully told, but every single one is hopelessly tragic. Even when people rally and come together, it’s always clear that they have no chance at a good life. So my advice is to read Sabrina and Corina with caution. Maybe only take on a couple stories at a time and then supplement with some good self-care. Trust me, you’re going to need a lot of hugs after this one.
Thank you to Kali Fajardo-Anstine, One World, and Net Galley for the ARC!