In this debut collection of stories, Fajardo-Anstine weaves together an exquisite tapestry of Indigenous Chicana women. Set in modern Denver as gentrification morphs the landscape into something unrecognizable, the characters navigate an unrelenting world through sheer determination and lack of any other alternative. These are stories about displacement and female relationships—about physical realities that are easily and carelessly destroyed, as well as the deep roots that persist through generations.
Fajardo-Anstine’s characters have an impressive breadth of personalities and age. They are diverse in their circumstances and yet all linked through their heritage and connection to the land. Whether the story features a little girl tasked with co-parenting a bag of sugar for a class project, or a woman recently released from prison, Fajardo-Anstine brings to life complex familial relationships with heartbreaking clarity.
While these women endure abuse, rejection, loss, and grieving, what stands out the most in these narratives is not their difficult circumstances, but the way others fail to acknowledge or respond to their suffering. On one level, Sabrina & Corina celebrates the way women persevere to hold together the shards of their broken families. But beyond the portraits of female strength, it tells another timeless story of apathy towards violence against women. By telling these stories, Fajardo-Anstine forces ugly truths into the open and gives big voices to those who have been silenced.
This book is truly a cultural gem, capturing the American West and the transformation of Colorado through the lens of its indigenous women.
I thought of all the women my family had lost, the horrible things they’d witnessed, the acts they simply endured. Sabrina had become another face in a line of tragedies that stretched back generations. And soon, when the mood hit my grandmother just right, she’d sit at her kitchen table, a Styrofoam cup of lemonade in her warped hand, and she’d tell the story of Sabrina Cordova—how men loved her too much, how little she loved herself, how in the end it killed her. The stories always ended the same, only different girls died, and I didn’t want to hear them anymore.