ITZÁ by Rios de la Luz is and episodic, dreamlike story of a family of water witches living in a border town that covers heavy the subjects of race, gender, sexuality, and trauma with a truth that can’t be denied and a beauty that can’t be resisted. This one immediately grabbed hold of my heart, and still hasn’t quite let go.
Told from the perspective of Marisol, it reads more like poetry than prose, and often leans into the surreal while hitting issues that are painfully real, and balances both aspects flawlessly. The woman and girls in this story are like forces of nature, full of power and magic in a world that is constantly trying to steal it from them. The grandmother and great grandmother are both deeply human, while feeling more than human, and Marisol’s relationship with her younger sister Araceli is particularly sweet as they navigate coming of age together. Even Aunt Lucia who only makes a brief appearance feels incredibly special and leaves a mighty impression.
As much as ITZÁ is a beautiful read, it isn't an easy read. It is a deeply personal exploration of trauma, surviving, and reclamation that at times made my eyes sting and heart ache. The honesty is almost too much to bear, but it's an honesty that needs to be told and needs to be heard and needs to be felt. I wanted to cry for Marisol, I wanted to give her a hug, and wanted to tell her I'm proud of her. While there is a variety of things that can make me enjoy a story, I'm ultimately an emotional reader, and ITZÁ tapped into that in the most perfect way.
I am a white woman from Wyoming, this story is not for me, there are aspects of the story I will never truly comprehend, and there are nuances I’ve surely missed, but I do know that every page of this book was infused with magic and strength. These are the stories we need more of, and Rios de la Luz has a voice that you need to listen to.