“Where I come from, a closed door is an invitation to knock.” ~ Alejandra Herrera
I’ve read and enjoyed many books by Wena Poon. However, when Alex y Robert was released, it was not easy to get in Singapore (unless you were buying it from online), and I finally got to read it after chancing upon it in one of our libraries.
In summary, Alex y Robert is about how Alejandra Herrera, the granddaughter of Javier Herrera, a famous matador from San Martin, goes back to her roots in Spain to become a matador. Along the way, she meets Roberto de la Torre, an accomplished matador her age wanting to get out of bullfighting. Roberto, in turn, is the grandson of Pedro de la Torre, Javier’s good friend in the bullfighting ring.
The first thing you’ll probably notice about Alex y Robert is how the book is broken into three main acts, surrounding the theme of a bullfight, ending with an epilogue. This sets the theme going, with each act representing the progress both Alex and Robert make throughout the story.
When Alex leaves home (Austin, Texas) and goes to Spain, everyone has their doubts and worries. Female matadors were frowned upon and her grandmother was dead set on her not becoming one. Roberto, on the other hand, is numbed as he goes through bullfight after bullfight, wanting to retire but does not do so due to familial pressure. And in the age where bullfighting remains a controversial subject, this novel does not glorify bullfighting itself, but speaks about it as a matter of fact.
One of the best things I enjoy about Wena’s writing is probably her character dynamics. To date, I find her best duo to be Alejandra and Roberto. The insane, devil-may-care attitude of the driven Alejandra is delicately balanced out with the rational, calm, but accomodating faith of Roberto.
A thing to note would be the fact that the story is presented in short sections in each act. Happenings are not exactly linear, so it may appear choppy to the reader at first. The pace is fast though, so readers can get to the thick of things relatively quickly.
Simply put: It describes the journey of a pair of friends going through their passions for life, culture, and identity through the medium of bullfighting – the same thing which drew them together.
You can read more about Alex y Robert or find out more about Wena Poon’s books here.