A Diary and a Game of Chance

Book review by Kristy Webster
Thursday Review Contributing Writer

I was lucky enough to come across an advanced reader’s copy of Loteria (one of the perks of working at a bookstore) and I read it in two days. It will be released to the public in July 2013.

I was immediately touched and disarmed by the voice in this novel—that of eleven-year-old Luz, a Mexican-American girl who has become a ward of the state following a shocking, and brutal turn of events that have left her traumatized and mute, but certainly not broken.

Using the cards from her deck of Loteria as a template for her memories and a vehicle for her story, Luz begins to record her thoughts in a diary which she often addresses to God. In often feisty and powerfully raw prose, Luz shares the fragile, beautiful and ultimately dark history of her family: its secrets, its heart-sprung intimacies, and its dissolution.

It is Luz’s tenacity and sharpened innocence that give Loteria a winning combination making it an unforgettable read. Loteria is the first novel by former ballet dancer Mario Alberto Zambrano and in this literary debut, Zambrano proves he is certainly a multi-talented artist, and definitely a writer to watch.