The Madonnas of Echo Park: Book summary and reviews of The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse

The Madonnas of Echo Park

A Novel

By Brando Skyhorse

The Madonnas of Echo Park
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2010,
    224 pages.

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Book Summary

We slipped into this country like thieves, onto the land that once was ours.

With these words, spoken by an illegal Mexican day laborer, The Madonnas of Echo Park takes us into the unseen world of Los Angeles, following the men and women who cook the meals, clean the homes, and struggle to lose their ethnic identity in the pursuit of the American dream.

When a dozen or so girls and mothers gather on an Echo Park street corner to act out a scene from a Madonna music video, they find themselves caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting. In the aftermath, Aurora Esperanza grows distant from her mother, Felicia, who as a housekeeper in the Hollywood Hills establishes a unique relationship with a detached housewife.

The Esperanzas’ shifting lives connect with those of various members of their neighborhood. A day laborer trolls the streets for work with men half his age and witnesses a murder that pits his morality against his illegal status; a religious hypocrite gets her comeuppance when she meets the Virgin Mary at a bus stop on Sunset Boulevard; a typical bus route turns violent when cultures and egos collide in the night, with devastating results; and Aurora goes on a journey through her gentrified childhood neighborhood in a quest to discover her own history and her place in the land that all Mexican Americans dream of, "the land that belongs to us again."

Like the Academy Award–winning film Crash, The Madonnas of Echo Park follows the intersections of its characters and cultures in Los Angeles. In the footsteps of Junot Díaz and Sherman Alexie, Brando Skyhorse in his debut novel gives voice to one neighborhood in Los Angeles with an astonishing— and unforgettable—lyrical power.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Skyhorse excels at building a vibrant community and presenting several perspectives on what it means to be Mexican in America, from those who wonder how can you lose something that never belonged to you - to those who miraculously find it. " - Publishers Weekly

"Eye-opening and haunting, Skyhorse’s novel will jolt readers out of their complacence." - Booklist

"Starred Review. Essential for fans of Sherman Alexie or Sandra Cisneros but with universal appeal for readers who favor in-depth character-centered stories, this is enthusiastically recommended." - Library Journal

"A beautiful sweep of Los Angeles, told through multiple viewpoints that showcase Brando Skyhorse's breadth. The Madonnas of Echo Park is a terrific journey, where characters re-emerge unexpectedly until by the end, the book has created a full and vivid world." - Aimee Bender, author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and Willful Creatures

"Brando Skyhorse writes with great compassion and wit (and a touch of magic) about the lives of people who are often treated as if they are invisible. The stories that make up this novel weave together to create a complex and vivid portrait of a Los Angeles we seldom see in literature or film. The Madonnas of Echo Park is a memorable literary debut." - Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply

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Author Information

Brando Skyhorse Author Biography

Photo: Eric van den Brulle

Brando Skyhorse's debut novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park, received the 2011 PEN/Hemingway Award and the Sue Kaufman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The book was also a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. He has been awarded fellowships at Ucross and Can Serrat, Spain. Skyhorse is a graduate of Stanford University and the MFA Writers' Workshop program at UC Irvine. He is the 2014 Jenny McKean Moore Writer-In-Washington at George Washington University.

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