Sonny Figueroa/The New York Times
Uprooted from her comfortable life in Bogotá, Colombia, into an ant-infested Miami townhouse, fifteen-year-old Francisca is miserable and friendless in her strange new city. Her alienation grows when her mother is swept up into an evangelical church, replete with Christian salsa, abstinent young dancers, and baptisms for the dead.
But there, Francisca also meets the magnetic Carmen: opinionated and charismatic, head of the youth group, and the pastor’s daughter. As her mother’s mental health deteriorates and her grandmother descends into alcoholism, Francisca falls more and more intensely in love with Carmen. To get closer to her, Francisca turns to Jesus to be saved, even as their relationship hurtles toward a shattering conclusion.
An excerpt of the novel won the 2014 Joseph Henry Jackson Literary Award. Judge Niels Hooper wrote “Fiebre Tropical renders the social destabilization of migration through multiple angles including the loss of social status, the boredom of loneliness, and the vivid stories of ritual, religion, and rebellion.”