This read was a fascinating dive into magical realism, not a genre I frequent very often. The story flips between Mexico City 1988 and Mexico City 2009 from chapter to chapter and centers on a trio of friends. Meche, Sebastian, & Daniela, all fifteen, are the freaks of their high school. They’re on the poor side and not exactly conventionally attractive, but they enjoy each other’s company while longing to rise in social standing. Meche had always been told stories of magic by her grandmother, but one day she discovers magic in her very own records and quickly spills the beans to her friends. Cut to 2009 and Meche is back in town from Oslo to attend her father’s funeral. The reader doesn’t know exactly what happened back in the 80’s, but it’s clear Meche isn’t on speaking terms with her old friends.
My resistance to magical realism usually flares up when things get too weird, but Signal to Noise keeps the magical parts pretty simple. The focus here is Meche and her relationship with her friends and family. None of these characters are perfect and Moreno-Garcia isn’t afraid to make them unlikable in places, but I never stopped caring about them. I also really liked the writing style. Even though I’ve never been to Mexico City and I was a child in the 80s, I felt transported in time through her writing. I imagine that if you’re a big music lover or were a teenager in the 80s, you’ll love this book for the nostalgia factor. I’d also really recommend this book to anyone looking for a unique book or well-written characters.