We’re kicking off our bimonthly book club with Alessandra Narváez Varela’s debut novel, “Thirty Talks Weird Love.”

Join us in celebrating El Paso’s talented authors by reading along and discussing the book in our private Facebook group. At the end of the two-month reading period, we will host an in-person Q&A with the author at an El Paso Public Library branch. Details coming soon.

Sign up for the book club newsletter to get the first look at the books we’ll be reading together. You’ll also get author Q&As, book reviews of upcoming releases, and details about book club events. 

About the book

A 13-year-old girl growing up in Mexico is visited by her 30-year-old future self in this young adult novel about handling depression.

Out of nowhere, a lady comes up to Anamaria and says she’s her, from the future. But Anamaria’s 13, she knows better than to talk to some weirdo stranger.  Girls need to be careful, especially in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico — it’s the ’90s and fear is overtaking her beloved city as cases of kidnapped girls and women become alarmingly common. This 30-year-old “future” woman doesn’t seem to be dangerous but she won’t stop bothering her, switching between cheesy Hallmark advice about being kind to yourself, and some mysterious talk about saving a girl.

Anamaria definitely doesn’t need any saving, she’s doing just fine. She works hard at her strict, grade-obsessed middle school — so hard that she hardly gets any sleep; so hard that the stress makes her snap not just at mean girls but even her own (few) friends; so hard that when she does sleep she dreams about dying — but she just wants to do the best she can so she can grow up to be successful. Maybe Thirty’s right, maybe she’s not supposed to be so exhausted with her life, but how can she ask for help when her city is mourning the much bigger tragedy of its stolen girls?

This thought-provoking, moving verse novel will lead adult and young adult readers alike to vital discussions on important topics — like dealing with depression and how to recognize this in yourself and others — through the accessible voice of a 13-year-old girl.

“As a debut novelist, Narváez Varela does an incredible job of putting her verses together, so that they tell a clear narrative while also enticing the reader with beautiful language. Exposure to different kinds of poetry can be a wonderful introduction to literature for all readers, but is especially so for hesitant readers.”

Katrina Ortega, Latinxs in Kid Lit. Read more of her review here.

About the Author

Alessandra Narváez Varela was born and raised in Ciudad Juárez and lives in El Paso. She earned a B.S. in biology and a bilingual M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso, where she now teaches. Her debut novel, “Thirty Talks Weird Love” was recognized by the American Librarian Association’s 2022 RISE list for YA Fiction and received the Southwest Book Award in January 2023.

Visit her website at alessandranarvaezvarela.com.

Where to get the book

  • Check out a copy at your El Paso Public Library branch. Place a hold if unavailable.
  • Shop local at Literarity Book Shop, 5411 N. Mesa in Pepper Tree Square. Get a signed copy when you shop in-person & 100% of profits will be donated to El Paso Matters! (Or donate 20% of profits when you buy online.)
  • Last resort: Use our link to buy it on Amazon.

Angela Saavedra is audience development leader for El Paso Matters.