I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Historical/Contemporary Age Range: Adult Star Rating: Series: standalone
Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends — Sebastian and Daniela — and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love…
Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? And, is there any magic left?
Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
SIGNAL TO NOISE is a story about shattering relationships and attempts to piece them back together once you’re older and have more distance. It’s also a book about music, celebrating the world of vinyls and the power of good music and lyrics.
Like the author’s other books, it’s a slower paced novel to better draw out the relationships and layers of theme stacked atop one another. It works so well with her stories, really letting you sink your teeth into the characters and the situations they find themselves in (often because of their own bad decision.)
The bulk of the book is set in 1988/9, following three friends as love and priorities break them apart, the desire to get things others have. The voices of the teenagers were so well done, contrasting with Meche’s voice as an adult 20 years later so you could immediately tell which timeline you were in (how weary is the narrator?)
It’s also a bit of a mystery – what broke these friends apart? You know from the 2009 pages that they have broken up, long ago as teens, but the books starts off with them as a tight-knit group, and so there is an inexorable pull to keep going and find out how it all goes wrong.
This is the second “hard to classify” book I’ve recently. It felt like a split timeline historical/contemporary book about friendships/relationships souring and returning later to pick up the pieces. There are elements of magic, but many can be explained away as coincidence (possibly that means this could be considered magical realism?) The focus is really not on the fantastical, but instead on the relationships. As someone for whom expectations is a big part of reading, I say this only so you can be aware. I found it fascinating read, but had thought the magic would be more integrated and present in the story.
Read my reviews of other books by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: