Hola and Goodbye: Una Familia in Stories
Carolina Wren Press
6 x 8
In 1920s Southern California, Lupita Comacho leaves Mexico and settles not far from the border—and so begins the journey of an American family told by a chain of tales stretching across three generations. Early stories track Lupita’s concessions to the demands of her new country and her new fish cannery job overseen by a lecherous boss who makes sure Lupita, her friend Rosa, and their Chinese coworkers work long, hard, and, for the most part, in silence, since speaking any language but English is forbidden. The family’s first-generation Americans populate later stories as they work toward assimilation, complete with kidney-shaped inground pools, even though their homes and children never quite match those in the pages of Ladies Home Journal. Finally, distanced from the culture of their ancestors and freed from the stigma of accented English, Lupita’s grandchildren live lives that are as wide-open as America: hosting karaoke nights, becoming female wrestlers, arriving at high school reunions utterly transformed. However, these modern-day family members discover that despite their freedom, they somehow remain set apart. In a time when the word “immigrant” has become politically charged and sometimes stripped of its earlier sense of dignity, these exquisitely human stories provide welcome restoration. In Hola and Goodbye, Donna Miscolta’s altogether fascinating and flawed characters face progress and failure against the backdrop of each new generation—bound together, and to us all, by the search for a place in this world.
Donna Miscolta brings the old streets to burning life. I can hear these voices, I can smell the cooking. The ghosts step out of these alleys as if they'd never left. Wonderful stuff.
—Luis Urrea, author of Into the Beautiful North and Queen of America
“Life,” Donna Miscolta writes in Hola and Goodbye, “was not about running away, but running toward something.” The characters in this intricately linked and exquisitely structured collection of stories do just that. For better or worse, they rush toward life, future-minded despite the past whispering from behind, and fueled by the clashing forces that make us human—courage and recklessness, wisdom and hope, the need to belong and the undeniable instinct to strike out on your own. Miscolta writes with the precision demanded by the short story, but with the range, scope, and generosity we crave in the novel, and what results is an unforgettable reading experience. Hola and Goodbye is a thoroughly satisfying book from a very talented writer.
―Lysley Tenorio, author of Monstress