By Natasha Ford
AUSTIN, Texas — If you’re looking for a light-hearted read, look no further than “Love in English.” There is one word I would use to describe Maria E. Andreu’s novel: heartwarming. OK, maybe there are two words: heartwarming and adorable.
From the very first page, we are thrust into Ana’s world as she struggles to understand English and tries to pick up words here and there. Ana has a unique way of looking at English —and language in general. Her understanding (or lack thereof) of language is utterly charming. The readers can see her grasp of the language improving throughout the book, but that’s not really what the story is about. The real story is Ana figuring out what she wants in this new country and who she wants to be.
Sixteen-year-old Ana is from Argentina. She spent her whole life in Argentina. But now she lives in America —New Jersey to be precise. Her father moved to America three years ago to get things settled for her and her mother to join him. Now, Ana and her mother are struggling with new expectations in their new ‘American life.’
Ana struggles in school, but her struggles fade away when she meets three people: shy, Greek ESL classmate Neo, outgoing new BFF Altagracia from art class, and devastatingly handsome American boy Harrison in math class. Altagracia helps Ana navigate the ins and outs of school, while Neo and Harrison help Ana understand English better. Ana feels less like a fish out of water with her new friends, but as her feelings for Neo and Harrison start to grow, she must make a decision.
“Love in English” does a beautiful job with language. The whole book is about language and how strange it is. Ana’s poetry interspersed between chapters helps the reader see her progress and struggles with grasping English, while the chapters show us her mastery of the language as she steps more and more into her American life. From Ana’s friends to her ESL teacher Mr. T, the characters in this book are all likable from the start. Andreu does an amazing job creating and expanding Ana’s world as Ana herself expands and grows more into herself.
I have been to country’s where I didn’t speak the language, and it was overwhelming —and that was only for a few days. This book does a fantastic job of showing readers what it’s like to be in that situation all the time, but not in a way that feels oppressive or sad. Ana is eager to learn and, even though she misses her life in Argentina, she is excited for her new life in America. Telling the story from Ana’s point of view immerses the reader in her daily life challenges.
I thoroughly loved “Love in English” and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a light, fun summer read!
About the writer:
Natasha Ford graduated from St. Edward’s University with a Bachelor’s degree in English Writing & Rhetoric with a minor in music. She currently works at BookPeople as an Assistant Kids Inventory Manager. She is passionate about childhood literacy and diversity in publishing and believes there is one book out there to turn every child into a reader. Her work has been published in Latinitas Magazine, Austin Woman Magazine, and the BookPeople blog. In her free time, Natasha loves doing yoga, reading young adult fantasy, and playing her with schnorkie, Bodhi. Find more of her book reviews on her Instagram, @natreadstuff!
Featured Image by Brave + Kind Bookshop.
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