Ivelisse Rodriguez’s short story collection Love War Stories (Feminist Press) shares a name with the final story it contains. In the short story, a group of young girls go to war with their mothers over the concept of love: “Just the summer before—fighting, yelling, believing—me, Yahira, Alexa, and Ruthie and a host of other girls would tell love stories,” Rodriguez writes. “And our mothers would tell antilove stories. And we did this every week in Springdale Park for three years until we went off to college. This was our war. And now, love is fighting all of us—it’s kicking our asses.”
Love kicks the asses of many of the characters in this collection, though not all. Rodriguez’s stories portray a variety of characters and a variety of romantic experiences, but they are all feature Puerto Rican characters and are tied to the concept of love. In the opening story, “El Qué Dirán,” a young girl is preparing for her quinceañera when she finds that she’s at risk of losing her social position (and her date) because of her aunt’s public heartbreak. In “Summer of Nene,” a teenage boy has a secret romance with his male best friend, who becomes disabled after a fall while running from the police. In “The Belindas,” a woman watches her abusive ex pursue a new relationship, knowing he doesn’t recognize her because of her post-breakup weight gain. Throughout the collection, Rodriguez’s prose pulls you in, and her characters will stay with you even when the stories are only a few pages long.
Love War Stories is out July 10, 2018.
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