Werewolves are back — at least, according to Argentine-American YA author Romina Garber. See if you agree by reading chapter one of her new book Lobizona, ahead of its May 5, 2020 release date. Be prepared, though, because this excerpt will definitely leave you wanting more.
Lobizona is the first book that Garber, who also writes as Romina Russell, has published under her real name. As Russell, Garber is the author of the four-book Zodiac series — Zodiac, Wandering Star, Black Moon, and Thirteen Rising. Her fans will recognize Lobizona by its working title, Wolves of No World, under which it was acquired late last year.
The novel centers on Manuela "Manu" Azul, an undocumented immigrant teen from Argentina living with her mother in Miami. On the run from the criminal organization to which Manu's late father belonged, the two live in fear of discovery — by both the crime family and ICE. When her mother is arrested as an undocumented immigrant, Manu learns that her entire identity is a lie. Her lunaritis — what her mother calls the pain she experiences around her period — is something much more sinister... and powerful.
Start reading Lobizona right now below, and pick up your copy when the book comes out on May 5, 2020.
The morning takes a deep breath. And holds it.
A shadow stains the sunny horizon. A black SUV with blue lights flashing.
Don’t come here, don’t come here, don’t come here.
The air grows stale as the vehicle stops outside our building. The street is so still, it could be playing dead.
Five men in bulletproof vests jump out. That’s when I react.
I storm into the stairwell and race down from the rooftop. Ten stories below, the agents thunder up.
I’m out of breath by the time I burst into the apartment.
“ICE is here!”
Ma leaps to her feet and tosses all the food she just made, stacking the utensils in the sink so it looks like the dishes have been piling up. There’s pounding on a door one level beneath us, and a man’s voice bellows out, “We’re looking for Guillermo Salazar!”
The horrors Perla left behind when she came to this country darken her glassy gaze.
We rush to Perla’s room, where Ma drops to the floor and rolls under the bed. When it’s my turn, I look at Perla and say, “They can’t come in without a warrant —”
“You don’t know what they can’t do.”
The horrors Perla left behind when she came to this country darken her glassy gaze, and I realize she never got away. No matter how many borders we cross, we can’t seem to outrun the fear of not feeling safe in our own homes.
Followed by scuffling.
There are other people shouting now, and I recognize the voices of those neighbors whose papers are in order, yelling at the officers in Guillermo’s defense. Everyone else is probably hiding like us.
I have to pee and my leg has a cramp, but we stay under Perla’s bed for forty-five minutes. Ma and I don’t even speak until we hear the SUV drive away.
When the morning exhales, the street looks untouched.
But it’s not.
I always bleed on the full moon.
Ma blames the lunar cycle for hijacking my menstrual cycle, so she coined my condition lunaritis — a made-up diagnosis that upon inflection can sound like English or Spanish.
“Comé bien que en una hora empieza lunaritis,” Ma reminds me as she shuts the oven door and places the seasoned carne al horno on the table to start carving.
My mouth waters with a whiff of the meat’s smoky aroma. “Obvio,” I say, agreeing to eat my fill. Even if this weren’t one of my favorite meals, I’d still need sustenance for my sixty-hour fast.
I feel a quiver of discomfort in my uterus, and I pry my sticky thighs from the plastic chair to readjust my legs. The apartment’s ancient air conditioner has a hard enough time battling the Miami sun, but it can’t compete with the heat of Ma’s cooking.
A delicious warmth fills my mouth and body as I chew, and I fleetingly feel sorry for Rebeca from One Hundred Years of Solitude who would only eat whitewash and dirt.
“Cuando te despertás seguimos con Cien Años de Soledad,” says Perla as I’m squeezing salsa golf over my roasted potato wedges. Ninety-year-old Perla has been homeschooling me since we moved in with her eight years ago, so she’s used to lesson-planning around lunaritis.
“Sí,” I say as I slice into the tender oven roast and spear my first bite of succulent pink meat. A delicious warmth fills my mouth and body as I chew, and I fleetingly feel sorry for Rebeca from One Hundred Years of Solitude who would only eat whitewash and dirt. Sucks that I won’t get to finish that book until lunaritis ends.
A tremor shoots up my belly, and my hand clenches around the red-and-white checkered tablecloth — a warning shot that soon I’ll be in excruciating agony. I stop chewing and close my eyes to focus on my breaths. When I open them again, three bright blue pills line the outer rim of my dinner plate.
I meet Ma’s concerned brown eyes.
The first few nights of my period are so painful that I can only endure them sedated. These chalky tablets plunge me so deep within my mind that it takes me nearly three nights to climb back out — long enough to miss my gut-contorting menstrual cramps.
I cup the pills in my palm, and for the first time I notice a faint Z etched into their center. Strange, since the blue bottle they come in says they’re called Septis. Maybe the Z stands for the zzz’s they provide.
Any moment now, the shift will happen, and I’ll be transported to the only place where I don’t have to hide.
I pop the meds in my mouth and chew them with the meat and potatoes.
“Maldita luna,” says Ma, glaring out the window. Damn moon. Perla follows up Ma’s declaration with a spitting sound, as if saying luna out loud could invite bad luck.
They think the moon cursed me, so they run through this ritual every month. Only unlike them, I don’t dread lunaritis.
I count down to it.
I chase the food and pills with water and gaze out the window at the dusky violet sky. Any moment now, the shift will happen, and I’ll be transported to the only place where I don’t have to hide. The one world where it’s safe to be me.
I come alive on the full moon.
Lobizona by Romina Garber is being published May 5, 2020 by Wednesday Books.