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Agave Blues by @MarleneeRuthie is a Celebrate Mothers Event pick #magicalrealism #moms #giveaway
Title: AGAVE BLUES
Author: RUTHIE MARLENÉE
Genre: Literary Fiction, Magical Realism
"Marlenée wraps a touching mother-daughter reconciliation in a freewheeling road trip narrative.“-- Publishers Weekly
Mix together a little family, drama, ghosts, and tequila, and you get a hell of a cocktail! Sometimes, la sangre atrae, "the blood calls you back," and when Maya gets the call to go back to her agave roots to claim the body of her long-missing father, her world changes forever. Set against the backdrop of her childhood in Mexico, Agave Blues is the story of ailing attorney Maya, in a broken relationship and butting heads with her teenage daughter, Lily. Maya swore never to return, but once she sets foot on mystical grounds, she uncovers her family's turbulent history and how tequila infuses deep secrets that have altered her life, both emotionally and physically. She realizes what's missing in her life―magic, mystery, art, unconditional love, and the stories of her past, including the myth her father used to share with her about her grandfather, Pancho Villa. The fields seem to heal her and her relationships, so she extends her stay and reconnects with her family. But when she encounters the handsome yet haunted Antonio, a childhood crush resurfaces, only to cause her more grief as she tries to master the art of tequila. Ruthie Marlenée is the Mexican-American author of Isabela's Island and Curse of the Ninth and is currently working on the sequel, And Still Her Voice. Marlenée's work can be found in several literary publications. She was born and raised in Orange County, California, and lives in Los Angeles and the desert in the Coachella Valley with her husband.
The bus hit a pothole and we bounced out of our seats. We looked at each other and laughed. It felt good.
It had been quite a while since I’d had communication with anyone from the remote village of Sagrada Familia, three hours outside the big city of Guadalajara where my family originated. What had prompted Lily to go there? As much as I’d wanted to protect my daughter, I knew I couldn’t stop her.
Lily had grown up an only child. Maybe it hadn’t been fair for me to keep her away from them. My cousin Angela often wrote to ask about me and Lily, and to send her love. I’d always kept my responses to Angela short and simple. And then I remembered when I was little, Angela had been like a big sister to me. She might be perfect for Lily, maybe give her some guidance where I’d failed. And now that Lily had reconnected with the family, I could do nothing about it. I had to accept that Lily was old enough to make her own choices.
“I guess sending you down here wasn’t a bad idea after all,” I said, clutching the seat in front of me.
“The jury is still out on that verdict as far as I’m concerned,” Lily answered, her smile quickly dissipating.
“You gave me no choice, Lily. You were only seventeen.”
“Like it’s up to you? It’s still my body.”
My jaw dropped to say something, but instead I sucked in the stale bus air and turned away. I knew she just wanted to debate with me but in her heart, she knew I was right.
“Well, just so you know, the sentence sucks,” she said, her grin returning.
“Yeah, sometimes life isn’t fair,” I said, swiping away the dampness forming in the corner of my eye. “I don’t want to be here either to deal with my father’s mess. He never really gave a flying fu . . .” I said. “Shit, I should stop cursing while I’m on this trip.”
“Why the fuck would you do that?”
“So that it doesn’t rub off.”
“Too late. Fuckity fuck, fuck.” Lily giggled.
She’d laughed twice now.
“Well, I hope you picked up some of my good qualities, at least.”
She turned toward me now, smiling almost devilishly. “So, what’s up with Zane?”
Kapow! The fireworks went off in my stomach. The girl knew how to fling zingers and hit below the belt. That’s no doubt something she picked up from me. She’ll make a good lawyer. (Because flinging zingers is such a good tool in the courtroom, right?)
“It’s over,” I answered.
“So no wedding, just a funeral.”
I reached for my purse and rummaged around for the container of Tums. I popped one into my mouth and then chased it down with my lukewarm coffee before pulling out a pack of smokes but stopped when I noticed Lily’s disapproving mug.
“So, I hope they have running water,” I said. “You know, when I was little, there was no plumbing, no bathrooms, no electricity.”
“What about cars?”
I peered at Lily. “We rode in on donkeys, smart ass. And we had to go to the bathroom out in the hen house barefoot up a mountain and through the snow. We used newspapers to wipe ourselves.”
“Seriously? That’s disgusting.”
“Yeah, but everyone appeared to be happy back then.”
“So then, why did you abandon your roots and never come back, Mom?”
Before I could protest, a sharp pain jabbed me in the stomach just as the bus pulled into a small-town stop.
“Baño?” I asked the driver and he pointed to the restroom. Pepita could no longer wait.
I darted over and handed a tiny, old wrinkly attendant some coins in exchange for a couple strips of toilet paper. I lined the toilet seat with paper and then tried to only hover. Why had I abandoned my roots? I wondered as my thighs burned from squatting. My roots were even more tangled than my insides. Since I was a baby, the constant migration of my family between Mexico and the United States had instilled in me the sense of always straddling the two countries, but never belonging to either culture. I’d had to make my own way in the world. And now, even with my wild imagination, I couldn’t envision how coming back would make things any better.
Afterward, I felt better, but needed a smoke. The weathered attendant smiled at me as I lit up and suddenly, I felt guilty. I thought about Dr. Vaisman and how as soon as I could get a connection, I’d call her.I stubbed out my cigarette before boarding the bus and when I got to my seat, it tickled me to see Lily with her head buried in a book this time and not her phone.
Not surprising, since preschool, Lily had always been a voracious reader with tons of interests ranging from everything in between and including aardvarks and zebras; reading books like Corduroy, Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid and then later books by King, Kingsolver and Kafka.
“Whatcha reading?” I asked, noticing the pretzel-posed woman on the cover.
“For my class.”
“I’m paying your tuition for you to take Yoga?”
“You should try it,” Lily said, handing me the book as another pain punched me in the gut; this time doubling me over.
“Mom, are you okay? You don’t look so good and you’re way too skinny, by the way.”
“Well—” I said, correcting her. “You don’t look so well.” I grimaced.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
This is a must-read for anyone navigating a relationship whether it be with a son or daughter, a husband or wife, a brother or sister, or even a neighbour across the border. Agave Blues will takes you on a mystical journey exploring past hurts, a family history that can't be buried and redemption in body and soul.
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Runs May 5 – May 13, 2022.
Winner will be drawn on May 14, 2022.
Ruthie Marlenée is a Mexican-American novelist, poet and screenwriter born and raised in Orange County, California, and lives in Los Angeles and the desert of the Coachella Valley with her husband. Marlenée earned a Writers’ Certificate in Fiction from UCLA and is the author of Isabela’s Island, Curse of the Ninth, nominated for a James Kirkwood Literary Prize and Agave Blues from which an excerpt A Good Tabernero Listens is nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is currently working on a sequel And Still Her Voice. Her poetry and short stories can be found in various publications, including Shark Reef, The Coiled Serpent Anthology, So To Speak, Detour Ahead, What They Leave Behind: A Latinx Anthology, Silver Birch Press, and Slow Lightning: Impractical Poetry. She’s received awards for her screenplays from the Women’s International Film Festival, the Oaxaca Film Festival, Carmesi International Fest, and the Mexico International Film Festival.
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