Carly Castillo has only ever known Albacore Avenue. Abandoned as a child by her Filipina mother and Mexican-American father, Carly returns each morning from her nursing shift to the house she shares with her grandmother, Magdalena. But when Magdalena slips into dementia, Carly begins to imagine a life elsewhere. Jess Rivera, her boyfriend and all-star shortstop turned seaman, treasures the salty, familiar island air. Years ago, he had a chance to leave Galveston for a bigger city with more possibilities. But he didn’t then, and he sure as hell won't now. Deftly moving through these characters’ lives and those of the individuals who circle them—Mercedes, Jess’s undocumented cousin; Kristin, Magdalena’s daytime nurse; Luz, the wife of Carly’s best friend; Schafer, Jess’s coworker out on the gulf—Garza presents a mosaic depiction of everyday survival in Southern Texas. As word spreads of a storm gathering strength offshore, building into Hurricane Ike, they each must make a difficult decision: board up the windows and hunker down, or flee inland and abandon their hard-won home.
Unflinching, lyrical, and singular, The Last Karankawas is a portrait of America scarcely witnessed, where browning palm trees and oily waters mark the forefront of ecological change. It is a deeply imagined exploration of familial inheritance, human perseverance, and the histories we assign to ourselves, establishing Kimberly Garza as a brilliant new literary voice.
Helen White @ihowell_965
January 21, 2023
I really dug this! It uses the texture of Galveston/Houston to great effect as it creates a collage of intersecting lives grappling with what it means to love each other, to find dignity and purpose, and to keep going through the damage. Yeah, I cried a little, so what?