Review: The Waves Take You Home by María Alejandra Barrios Vélez

by Joli
The Waves Take You Home Book Review

This debut caught my eye because of the gorgeous cover! The bright flowers and artwork of a beautiful woman with flowers cascading down her hair stood out so much, I couldn’t resist reading it. The question is, did the story live up to the beautiful cover? Read on to find out what I thought.

The Summary

Violeta Sanoguera had always done what she was told. She left the man she loved in Colombia in pursuit of a better life for herself and because her mother and grandmother didn’t approve of him. Chasing dreams of education and art in New York City, and with a new love, twenty-eight-year-old Violeta establishes a new life for herself, on her terms. But when her grandmother suddenly dies, everything changes.

After years of being on her own in NYC, Violeta finds herself on a plane back to Colombia, accompanied at all times by the ghost of her grandmother who is sending her messages and signs, to find she is the heir of the failing family restaurant, the very one Abuela told her to run from in the first place. The journey leads her to rediscover her home, her grandmother, and even the flame of an old love.

My Review

What a beautiful story! You figure out pretty quickly that Violeta is much stronger than she gives herself credit for, but needs to work on realizing it. She leaves for New York City in the beginning of the book, although reluctantly. Her life there is busy but pretty okay, but then her grandmother dies and leaves her as the heir of her restaurant back home in Columbia.

The rest of the book is all about Vi feeling pulled between her old life and the new one she’s built for herself in the States, grappling with her family’s history (and her own), and questioning what she really wants out of life. Oh, and there’s some magical realism thrown in there with some visits from a specific person from beyond the grave…

I enjoyed reading The Waves Take You Home quite a bit. It was a fun read that had a lot of heart, and I enjoyed getting to know Vi.

One thing you’ll notice if you read reviews of this book is the Spanish. The author chooses to include quite a few phrases throughout the book in her native language. Many of them also include the English translation, but some do not. I’ve actually been working on slowly learning Spanish through an app for about a year and was able to recognize some of the words that weren’t translated. If you don’t know any Spanish, you may find yourself looking up a few phrases as you read.

I like when authors include words in the book in the language that would be spoken where the book is set. I think it adds to the story by engulfing you in the setting and culture more. That said, it can become distracting, especially if you’re not at all familiar with the language.

There were also a couple aspects of the story I noticed that I thought could have been taken care of during the editing process. At the beginning of the book, I felt like I was reading a couple of the same passages over again multiple times while Vi goes over and over in her head how she feels about being torn between two places. That point was a little bit overdone.

Overall, though, this was a lovely story that I got lost in. It got slightly overdramatic at times and maybe had a little extra Spanish that wasn’t translated, but that didn’t impact my reading of the book too much. I appreciated Vi’s struggles and rooted for her throughout the whole story. I’m officially going with 3.5 stars, but I rounded up to 4 for my Goodreads rating.

Oh, and because it’s set partly in a restaurant, you get TONS of great imagery about delicious-sounding food. | Amazon | Goodreads

The Waves Take You Home by María Alejandra Barrios Vélez

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