Like Happiness

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A beautifully-written story about being seen – a feeling so addictive and rapturous, once encountered, nothing can stand in its way.

And so we meet Tatum Vega, the first person POV narrator of this story, a young Latina woman, living in San Antonio, Texas. A Literature and Fine Arts college student, twenty-one year old Tatum, intelligent and erudite, in her short life thus far, has come to experience both Caucasian exclusion and complete disregard, leaving her an angry, belittled, friendless and alienated member of her larger community.

All of this changes when Tatum reads the work of author M. Dominguez (Mateo), an older Latino writer whose fictional renderings of Latin Americans living in the US and Puerto Rico seem to speak to Tatum’s embittered soul.

As Tatum and Mateo strike up what is to become a complex and extraordinary relationship, the author peels back the layers between them gradually, exposing (on both sides), what can only be seen as the waxing and waning, over time, of raw and naked urgency, need, ego and vulnerability, and the extremes a soul will go to in service of the same.

With a story eventually spanning their decade’s long entanglement, converging across two timelines, we will come to understand Tatum as she was “then” (and, through her eyes, Mateo as he emerges), and how both, through choices and actions, evolve into their “now” timeline selves, ten years later. Where motivations, and their consequences, for each, are no longer obscured.

I loved this book, – a compelling and sharply-edged commentary on ambition, passion, belonging, and power. Heartbreaking and pristine, this gorgeously-told story cannot help but engage, drawing us in with the self-important authenticity(naïveté) of young Tatum’s voice, and carrying us with her through all of what is to follow. Including the author’s (and Tatum’s) gradual unwrapping of the enigma that we understand to be Mateo.

A great big thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.


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