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Reviews of The Making of Yolanda la Bruja by Lorraine Avila

The Making of Yolanda la Bruja

by Lorraine Avila

The Making of Yolanda la Bruja by Lorraine Avila X
The Making of Yolanda la Bruja by Lorraine Avila
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2023, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    Jul 2024, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Ahima
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About this Book

Book Summary

Elizabeth Acevedo has said that reading Lorraine Avila feels like an "uppercut to the senses." You've never encountered an author with prose of this sensitivity and fire.

Yolanda Alvarez is having a good year. She's starting to feel at home Julia De Burgos High, her school in the Bronx. She has her best friend Victory, and maybe something with José, a senior boy she's getting to know. She's confident her initiation into her family's bruja tradition will happen soon.

But then a white boy, the son of a politician, appears at Julia De Burgos High, and his vibes are off. And Yolanda's initiation begins with a series of troubling visions of the violence this boy threatens. How can Yolanda protect her community, in a world that doesn't listen? Only with the wisdom and love of her family, friends, and community – and the Brujas Diosas, her ancestors and guides.

The Making of Yolanda La Bruja is the book this country, struggling with the plague of gun violence, so desperately needs, but which few could write. Here Lorraine Avila brings a story born from the intersection of race, justice, education, and spirituality that will capture readers everywhere.

1
THE CARDS DON'T LIE

I am panting, sweat accumulating at my edges, hands eagerly searching for the water bottle inside my Telfar bag. Thank God, I put on that edge control that keeps my baby hairs laid no matter what. I pat the small crown of cornrows on the front of my hair as I gulp down some water. Victory did them just yesterday after school, so they're still a bit tight. the bright lights turn on as we step into the small school bathroom.

"Come on girl, just read 'em for me," Victory says. She looks at the old deck of tarot cards Mamá Teté handed down to me two months ago in preparation for my sixteenth birthday. "Is this white boy sus or nah?"

Although we can't be in the bathrooms during lunch, we've snuck to the third floor of our school building again. the cream, glossy paint has long been chipping off of the bathroom walls, revealing the old brown color the walls used to be. there are messages written on the walls in Sharpie.

Taking another big gulp of water, ...

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Reviews

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The description may lead readers to believe a major point of the plot hinges on whether Yolanda can convince people not only that she has visions but of what the visions entail: a premonition that Ben will shoot up the school. However, the conflict Yolanda encounters concerning her visions is internal and more about whether she believes in herself, as she seems too terrified to tell people about them in the first place. Nonetheless, I was fine with how the direction of the narrative steered. I appreciated Avila's focus on Yolanda's journey as a person — she juggles so much trauma while coming to terms with her evolving identity, even as someone who is already more confident and self-assured than most teenagers her age. The author's ability to weld a beautiful character into an even more impressive one over time makes the read rewarding...continued

Full Review (779 words)

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(Reviewed by Lisa Ahima).

Media Reviews

Ms. Magazine
Impressive and urgent. She takes on racism, violence and injustice with a mix of magic, spirituality and care that few have attempted—and she's captivatingly successful.

Refinery 29
A necessary story about gun violence, race, and education.

Al Dia
Explores gun violence, race, justice, education, and spirituality, which holds this book like a canopy, enclosing and exposing layers of Blackness and the growth and sense of belonging community can provide.

Booklist (starred review)
A sharply rendered portrait...Avila's striking debut is not to be missed.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
It's an intersectional novel both on a personal level—Yolanda is Black, Latina, queer, and deaf (she has cochlear implants)—and in a wider sense as it thoughtfully, candidly engages with racism, violence, and privilege while centering Yolanda's growing bonds of family, community, activism, and spirituality. A remarkable, beautifully rendered debut.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Avila skillfully cultivates a unique and magical spin on a grounded, socially conscious plot that is rich in Afro-Latinx cultural detail. Yolanda is a boldly characterized protagonist whose intersectional identities as a queer and Deaf person of color informs her sharp-witted narrative voice and conviction around combatting racism within her community.

Horn Book Magazine
Gripping… Avila skillfully depicts the reality of growing up as a Black Latinx teen in the midst of racial violence and social upheaval… Avila carefully demonstrates the tremendous strength in Yolanda's community and the deep roots of her spiritual life, which keep her grounded as she steps into her full power.

Reader Reviews

soomi

An Engaging And Inslightful Expolaration Of A Spitual L
Lorraine Avila's "The Making of Yolanda la Bruja" is a powerful and enlightening book that delves into the life and legacy of one of the most influential spiritual leaders of our time. Through meticulous research and engaging storytelling, Avila ...   Read More
Paula Mae Dugang

Good
This book is good.

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Beyond the Book

Brujería: Latin American Witchcraft Past and Present

Aztec illustration of a woman preparing chocolate In Lorraine Avila's The Making of Yolanda la Bruja, Yolanda's mother and grandmother guide her as she becomes fully absorbed in her family's traditional religious practices. While she's lighting candles, reading tarot cards and immersing herself in her grandmother's bath mixes, Yolanda's rituals celebrate her spirituality and bruja culture. What does it mean to be a bruja? The answer to that question has many layers, but some Latin American youth today are turning to brujería as a form of healing, cultural preservation and revolution against oppression.

The concepts of brujas and brujería — "witches" and "witchcraft" in Spanish, respectively — have existed for centuries. How people practice brujería varies ...

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