This made my top 10 list.
This is a beautiful story, written in beautiful prose by Mexican author Sofia Segovia. Published in 2019 and translated by Simon Bruni, this book makes me wish I had more than the now inadequate high school Spanish instruction I can’t really even remember just so I could reread it in its original language.
A historical fiction novel, set in a small Mexican town during a time of both war and sickness, it’s the perfect choice if you enjoy this genre but are ready to take a break from WWII. The Mexican Revolution and devastating flue pandemic of 1918 serve as catalysts for the life-altering decisions made by the kind patriarch of a close-knit family as they struggle to keep their ancestral land from being stolen by both the new government and, unbeknownst to them, a jealous, angry, and increasingly obsessed tenant.
What makes this story so beautiful are the rich characters it inhabits. The family matriarch, Nana Reja, discovers a newborn infant lying naked and abandoned under a bridge. The boy has a cleft pallet, causing some to claim he has been kissed by the devil and is therefore dangerous. The protective blanket of bees covering Baby Simonopia when he is found remain hovering about him throughout his life, somehow connected to a mystical ability enabling him to see things happening both in the present and future. Nana Reja patiently feeds him drops of milk mixed with honey and, as he grows, the family comes to love and treat him as one of their own. Simonopia’s gifts, as do the constant and reassuring presence of the bees, become an integral part of the Morales family story as they navigate both the now historical events of this time period as well as the milestones of everyday life.
This book is now solidly ensconced in my top ten list. (Which, by now, is probably my top 25 list, since I haven’t actually counted lately.) I truly loved it and plan to order it in hardback so I can reread it in the future!