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Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo


 

Xolo Score 3.5/5

 

Elizabeth Acevedo’s first novel for adults is a multigenerational drama centered on the complex family dynamics of the mystical Marte women. Flor and her sisters have unique gifts. Flor can predict when someone will die. So, when she decides she wants a living wake to celebrate the long life she’s led—her sisters and daughter demand answers that Flor refuses to answer. Spanning the three days before the wake, Family Lore traces the lives of each of the Marte women, weaving together past and present, Santo Domingo and New York City. The novel profoundly explores identity, tradition, and the intergenerational impact of secrets and untold stories.

 

*** SPOILERS AHEAD ***

 

Acevedo thoroughly crafts each character in Family Lore with a unique voice and a deeply personal story. Through the different members of the Marte women, we explore the complexities of being a Dominican-American across different generations, from growing up in the campos of D.R. to navigating the U.S. education system. The novel doesn’t shy from deeper conversations about internalized misogyny, femicide, and gendered double standards. The relationships between the Marte women are layered and authentic, highlighting the complexities of familial bonds and the intricate web of love, loss, and sacrifice that connect them.


Acevedo’s superpower is her ability to tackle profound themes with lyrical grace and nuance. Family Lore explores “undoing the dust of colonization and white supremacy” in a career path, the criminalization of Latine and Black boys, and Afro-Dominicanas’ self-empowerment in reclaiming the indigenous legend of La Ciguapa. Acevedo weaves these themes into the story through her characters’ journeys and sheds light on the universal human desire to understand and connect with our roots while navigating the complexities of modern life.


Additionally, Family Lore celebrates the power of matriarchal families. Acevedo beautifully explores how women in our family shape our identities and their profound impact on family dynamics. Through its interconnected stories, readers uncover layers of each woman’s family lore and the untold tales that have shaped their lives and the family’s future. Acevedo demonstrates how “lineages of women from colonized places, where emphasis is put on silent, enduring” can transcend beyond what society expects of them through the love, sacrifices, and unbreakable bonds they engender.


Family Lore weaves a rich tapestry of family, culture, and untold stories.


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