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Hola and Goodbye by Donna Miscolta

Hola and Goodbye: Una Familia in Stories - Donna Miscolta

This is an interesting, though uneven, collection of stories about three generations of Hispanic women (and some of their friends) in California. It begins with the grandmother, Lupita, who works in a factory with her best friend and barely speaks English, and whose children are quickly leaving her behind. After setting up the stories of Lupita and her friends, it moves on to her children, and then quickly to the grandchildren, who dominate most of the book.

The first part, about Lupita and her friends, is quite strong, though the protagonists aren’t always the nicest people: they tend to use their husbands, dislike their kids, and obsessively remind the reader that fat people are fat. The rest of the book continues these trends, but in stories that I generally found less interesting. The children’s generation comes across as quite shallow, while several of the grandchildren’s stories didn’t ring true to me. After the first quarter of the collection, the only standouts for me were “Lovely Evelina,” about a transgender woman attending her 25-year high school reunion among people who only ever knew her as a boy, and perhaps “Sunday Dinner,” the last story, about Lupita’s old age. Meanwhile several stories feature Julia, the apparent author avatar of the collection, whose stories don’t really do much. There are also some continuity errors.

So while this isn’t a terrible collection, and I like the idea of telling a multigenerational tale through short stories, it’s also not one that stood out for me or that I’m inclined to recommend.