Fast Facts

Title: Ander and Santi Were Here
Author: Jonny Garza Villa
Publication date: April 4, 2023
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Recommended for: 14+
Rating: 3.5/5

Ander Lopez, a non-binary Mexican-American, has spent their whole life trying to find their place in the small town of Santos Vista,Texas. Between their job at their family’s taqueria and their side gig as a muralist, Ander soaks up every last bit of home before their gap year is up and it’s finally time to move to Chicago for art school. That’s when Santiago Garcia walks into their life as a new waiter at the taqueria. Santi and Ander soon develop a relationship stronger than anything Ander has ever felt before, filled with excitement, passion, and an undeniable connection. But when Ander finds out that Santi is an undocumented immigrant, life outside of Santos Vista suddenly seems like the least of their concern. With Santi’s life in America and Ander’s art career weighing in the balance, Ander must decide what’s truly important and the lengths they’re willing to go to for love. 

This novel is a great blend between fluffy romance and deeper subject areas such as immigration and identity. While some parts could have dug deeper into these concepts, this book helped capture the perspective and the wave of emotions immigrants go through on a daily basis. I felt much more educated and I developed even more sympathy for those who must fight for a place to call home. I also really appreciated the queer representation in this book; I feel as though many people will be able to relate and feel comforted by the characters and their identities. In addition, the author does an excellent job of weaving lines of Spanish into the book. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you can easily follow along and I thought that it added another layer of fluidity and cultural representation. However, in terms of plot, the novel was definitely repetitive and somewhat monotone. I found myself getting bored and wondering when something intriguing would happen. Most of the book is extremely romance heavy, but if you are interested in that, then this book could be for you! Although, any time the author added any description of tacos or tortas, I could immediately feel my stomach begin to rumble. So that aspect of the novel definitely kept me interested. Overall, this book is a good one to pick up if you like art, romance, cultural representation or if you’re simply looking to try something new!

Happy reading!

~ Julia