CW: everything (seriously, anything awful you can think of, it’s probably in this book)
Without a doubt Hurricane Season is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I cannot recommend it enough, but have to warn that it is an exceptionally painful book to read.
Inspired by a true story (which Melchor initially wanted to explore in a non-fiction book, but decided against due to the danger she’d expose herself to in trying to research it), Hurricane Season unspools the story of the murder of a Witch in the town of La Matosa, through eight chapters told from different characters’ points of view. While the mystery of the Witch’s murder is at the center of this novel, to me it functioned more as social commentary on machismo, misogyny and poverty in rural Mexico.
Melchor uses a nonlinear, nearly stream-of-consciousness approach that is still relatively easy to follow. Each chapter is linked to the previous one by focusing on a character commented on (and often criticized or blamed) before, and gives that character room to voice their own story, adding depth, context, and, in some cases, a bit of sympathy. Every chapter is more heartbreaking and infuriating than the one before, and the linked structure serves to underpin how the cycle of poverty, abuse, homophobia, and misogyny are inter-generational, and hard to break.
This novel is not for the faint-hearted; it’s laced with violence and sexual abuse, and I felt sick to my stomach on more than one occasion. But the light that Melchor shines on the difficulties of being trapped in this ever-repeating cycle is brighter than the brutality.