Temporada de Huracanes was the pick for this month for the book club with my friends from Mexico. Melchor writes a book that immerses the reader in a small, poor town in Veracruz where a body is found by a group of kids in a canal. The body belongs to the Bruja, or witch, of the town and who has a lot of rumors surrounding her life, her powers, everything about her really. What follows the first chapter where she is found is 7 more chapters, each narrated by a different person related to how the Bruja ended up in that canal.
Each chapter unfolds a new layer to the complexity of each character, telling us more details about their lives and also about their perspective on why the Bruja ended up dead. There is a lot of violence within these pages: emotional, physical, and sexual, but it is not done in a nonsensical way. Melchor takes extra care on when she uses graphic language vs not and she also chooses how each character speaks with intention.
The language used in the book is very specific to the region of Veracruz where the book is set. While it is a fictional town, my friends from Veracruz confirmed that this is how people talk there and I also can confirm that that is how I’ve heard older relatives talk as well. There is a lot to say about this book, the themes about socioeconomic status, religion, academic education, sexual education, culture, addiction, children forced to become adults early in their lives, just a lot!
One thing I will say that I loved about this book is how Melchor managed to write characters that I feel like I now know personally. She is able to make us see the worst of people but also the best of them, they do some really horrible things but we also see how they ended up in those situations. Impossible decisions to make in that context!
In the book club we talked about how our perspective is one of privilege and this book is only a window into that world so we can’t begin to imagine what it would actually be like to live in that world. If we’ve ever touched a corner of that world in our lives, our instinct is to turn and go the other direction. This now leaves us with knowledge of this world and also empathy for that world as well as understanding.
I’d love to recommend this book to everyone but this book is not for everyone. As I mentioned, there is a lot of emotional, physical, and sexual violence, as well as heartbreaking situations with everyone, from minors to adults. However, if you do choose to read it and you can get it in Spanish I’d recommend that, I’ve seen that the translation is pretty good as well.