Book Review – Monstress by Lysley Tenorio

Let me just preface this by saying wow. If I can sum it up to just one word, then that would be all I could vocalize. Even now I find myself just sitting here with these characters and just thinking wow. Is my hair ok cause I feel blown away?

Monstress is a book of short stories that are anything but short, (except lengthwise) they span over decades and I find myself baffled at how the author managed to make a nine year olds voice sound as convincing as a retiree. There isn’t a voice in the book that I didn’t fall hopelessly in love with. I don’t think I’ve experienced this before. (Though I’ll admit I came close in Mia Alvar’s stories “In the country” – also worth checking out!)

Fortunado had never struck a person before, but there were times in his life he wondered what it might be like, and now he knew: the force of everything you are in a single gesture at a single moment; the hope that it will be enough and the fear that it won’t. No different than a kiss.

I’m not even going to try and describe the stories, they are too rich in detail and sentiment that anything I could sum up would be a disservice to them. But all the stories are very much alive, vivid and they straddle borders between one thing and another. Not single word bored me and I read them all carefully. So carefully in fact that it took me 8 days to read it because I would only allow myself 1 story a day to savor it. (But believe me, I wanted to binge the whole thing in one sitting, but like fine things, it is best consumed in moderation!)

He grabbed hold of my wrist, put my hand to his lips, and instead of kissing it, he simply breathed in through his nose and mouth, as though I were air to him, his only oxygen. Then he let me go and went inside.

I’m putting this one on my very short list of favorite books. One that I will keep with me forever. And I would very highly recommend it to anyone looking for stories that make your heart breathe by opening and filling up and then pouring out, filling up and pouring out. I cannot recommend this book enough.