In Leila Cobo’s The Second Time We Met (Grand Central Publishing), teenager Rita Ortiz lives in a small town called Edén, but her life is hell.
Her parents are overly strict, and her small town in Colombia is run by guerillas. She falls in love with one of those guerillas, Lucas, and then her life becomes even more complicated: she finds out she’s pregnant. Her parents force her to move into a convert, and she gives birth and puts the baby up for adoption.
The book then goes from 1989 South America to present day California, where that baby – named Asher Stone – is now a college student living with his tight-knit family and dreaming of a professional soccer career. An almost-fatal car accident forces him to rethink his life – and search for his birth mother. But Asher has very little to go on – just her name, a birth date and a letter she wrote to him. Now Asher – and the reader – wants to know what happened to Rita Ortiz.
The book’s plot isn’t original and Asher isn’t as compelling a character as his mother. But the story runs at a good pace, and Cobo writes some killer lines. Take this passage when Rita and Lucas fall in love: “What neither of them reckoned with is that love and lust are transformative, that they peel back layers of your self, surreptitiously, life the softest caress. Before you know it, fragments of you are exposed for all to see, little pieces of you didn’t know carried with you until they found their reason to exist.”
And readers will have good reason to keep turning the pages.
• Leila Cobo is a native of Colombia and former concert pianist. She covers Latin music for Billboard magazine. Her first book was Tell Me Something True.
She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
Source: I received a review copy from the publisher.