LOVE IN ENGLISH
Publisher: Balzer & Bray (February 2, 2021)
With playful and poetic breakouts exploring the idiosyncrasies of the English language, Love in English is witty and effervescent, while telling a beautifully observed story about what it means to become “American.”
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LOVE IN ENGLISH is a young adult novel layered with themes of cultural identity and finding your voice in any language.
Sixteen year old Ana has just moved to New Jersey from Argentina for her Junior year of high school. She’s a poet and a lover of language except that now, she can barely understand what’s going on around her, let alone find the words to express how she feels in the language she’s expected to speak.
All Ana wants to do is go home until she meets Harrison, the very cute, very American boy in her math class. And then there’s her new friend Neo, the Greek boy she’s partnered up with in ESL class, who she bonds with over the 80s teen movies they are assigned to watch for class (but later keep watching together for fun), and Altagracia, her artistic and Instagram fabulous friend, who thankfully is fluent in Spanish and able to help her settle into American high school.
But is it possible that she’s becoming too American as her father accuses and what does it mean when her feelings for Harrison and Neo start to change? Ana will spend her year learning that the rules of English may be confounding, but there are no rules when it comes to love.
With playful and poetic breakouts exploring the idiosyncrasies of the English language, Love in English tells a story that is simultaneously charming and romantic, while articulating a deeper story about what it means to become “American”.
A sneak peek into Love in English
Your Future Depends
On Understanding This
Primero, lee todas las instrucciones. No te olvides de llegar hasta el final.
(Si crees que final es una palabra que entiendes, algún tipo de pista, estás equivocada.).
Las instrucciones son así: escucha a todos, aprende todo, mantente al día, no extrañes nada. Y hazlo todo en un idioma que no entiendes.
Okay. Let’s begin.
The First Day
I smooth the front of my skirt, then run a finger on the checked gray felt of the front seat of the car. My toes are cold in my boots even though it is not cold out. I wasn’t nervous this morning getting ready. But now I feel locked in. Like: This is the outfit. This is the day. This is the me that does it, not some imaginary future me.
My dad studies my face and hands me a box of Tic Tacs, the base of his left hand on the steering wheel, like he’s bracing himself. Tic Tacs. Our old before-school routine since I was little. If there was a reason once, I’ve forgotten it now. I shouldn’t be surprised that there are Tic Tacs here, but I am. Their rattle feels like it comes from far away. I pop one in my mouth. I hand the box back.
Everything has been strange in the two weeks since my mom and I got to this new country. To our new home in New Jersey, on Eighty-Fifth85th Street in a town called Westport, although it does not seem to be west of any ports. It is a place that hasn’t decided if it wants to grow up to be a farm or a strip mall. Everything is green and pushy here, insisting on itself. The landscape is not scrappy like it is back home in Argentina. The sound of the people on the radio my mom listens to isMy mom listens to the radio in Spanish, but it’s not the Spanish we speak. Cashiers always seem to be in such a hurry, like they’re paid by the customer. Another strange thing: we drive everywhere, moving from bubble to bubble—from our dingy new apartment, to the car, to the store, and back. And now this school.
I sit and look at the building’s unfriendly brick face. My father’s eyes watch me.
“You will be okay, Ana,” he says in English. He insists that my family only speak English so we can learn it faster. “You just have to get through the first day.”
That’s not true and he knows it. Today is the first of more days than I can count.
He continues. “Everyone will want to know who the new student is.”
I still do not look his way.
“It’s our new adventure,” he says in a tone that begs me to agree.
I look at him, finally. It is still jarring, this new father of mine, three years older than the one wthaot last lived with me. His face is rounder. The battalion at the front lines of his head have has lost several rows of troops to the Balding Brigade. We used to Skype with him all the time when my mom and I were back home and he was here, but it’s different in person. Everything is different in person.
Suddenly, I want to cry. I did not ask for this adventure. But as soon as I think that, I feel guilty. I close my eyes and remember my cousins back home telling me how lucky I am. And I am lucky.
But today I don’t feel lucky at all.