The Madonnas of Echo Park is an intimate glimpse into the lives of men and women who struggle against losing their ethnic identity in the pursuit of the American dream. But even though the book centers on the Echo Park neighborhood in Los Angeles, it could easily take place in any North American city.
Brando Skyhorse gives a voice to the Mexican American communities of LA, and in doing so he writes candidly and honestly of race and belonging and the complications of carving a place of your own in a new country.Told from a multitude of viewpoints, this non-linear narrative dodges in and out of itself, eventually coming full circle, with Echo Park immerging as a microcosm of the immigrant experience. An experience that is lived everyday all across North America, and one that is not unique to the sun drenched vistas of Los Angeles.
That’s not to say that this book isn’t heavily rooted in a specific place, it certainly is, but the intersections of cultures, people and places are universally felt, and reflective of our own cities and urban landscapes. This is a book that should be read on a number of levels, as a story that illuminates its reader to the very real experience of a distinct group of people living in a specific place, but also as a commentary on the notion of place and identity, and the dependency of each on the other.
Much has been written about Canadian identity and our multicultural mosaic of cultural enclaves, but what we so often forget, and what Skyhorse reminds us, is that we still have a long way to go; that the concept of a melting pot or mosaic is a nice idea, but it usually falls short, and it’s important to remember that racism and ethnic biases are still prevalent today.
To learn more about the book, please visit our website, where you will find reading group guides, an author Q&A, and an excerpt from the book.