Monday, April 10, 2017

"Sketchy Tacos" by Meg D. Gonzalez

Sketchy Tacos
by Meg D. Gonzalez

You can read an excerpt from Sketchy Tacos by Meg D. Gonzalez, as well as my review. This review opportunity is brought to you by eBooksfor Review.

Teenage artist Mila Gulick travels to Mexico to get away from warring influences and find herself. But life in the land of tacos is a far cry from her sheltered life back home. Mila must find the courage to step out from behind her sketchbook and get to know the people and culture around her. While her host family and the two boys vying for her interest are nothing but smiles, all may not be as it seems.
Soon Mila is questioning her choices and the beliefs she’s held dear. Her heart, her art, and even her safety are at risk as she struggles to find a balance between cultural differences, old assumptions, and strange romance. Will her trip end in disaster or will she find the strength for which she’s been searching?

Book Video

Leaning forward, I hide my hot cheeks behind a veil of wavy, brown hair Rosa somehow coaxed straight. As he pushes my bangs behind my ear, his fingertips brush my skin. I suppress a shiver. His hand lingers behind my neck. Lightning skitters across my skin.
Qué bonita,” he murmurs, leaning forward.
Pretty. He called me pretty. Is this for real?
With a slight sway, I find myself closing the distance. My body reacts to instincts I didn’t know I possessed. Then I freeze.
What if I’m a horrible kisser? Rosa’s friends are a chatty group. What if I’m terrible, and I turn into the laughing stock of her entire social circle? I’d be alone the rest of the summer. Or I’d have to flee the country and return to Mom.
I swing away.
“What’s wrong?” His breath tickles my nose, minty fresh.
“Nothing.” Heat flames from my forehead to my fingertips. Think. Think! Come up with something coy, something cute.
My chin raises. I quirk one corner of my lips. “I’m just not that easy.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"This modern coming-of-age story has it all – humor, heart, genuine characters, and spiritual depth. I highly recommend it to teen readers." ~ Krista McGee, Inspy Award winning author of First Date and Starring Me
"Meg D. Gonzalez gives us a vivid look at life for an American teenager in Mexico and an even clearer picture of what happens when you decide to embrace who God made you to be. No matter what. Great first novel. Great read." ~ Nancy Rue, Christy Award winning author of the Real Life series
"Sketchy Tacos is a fantastic and fun read for any audience! Travel along with Mila as she experiences the art, culture, and people of Mexico. Throughout her journey she faces trials, relationship issues, and questions about her faith. I love this book because of its theme of finding one's self, learning about God, and the journey of becoming independent. What a great read!!!" ~ Elizabeth Mercer
"Meg D Gonzalez brings Mila to life. I felt like I was in Mexico. I can't wait for the next one." ~ lovestoreadst

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
As part of a six-week immersion program, seventeen-year-old Mila travels from Indiana to Mexico to learn Spanish over the summer. If she earns enough Spanish credits now, she'll be able to sign up for the advanced drawing class she wants to take in her final year of high school. Mila has a passion for drawing and sketches every moment she can. However, she lacks confidence and doesn't think she has what it takes to be an artist. But, with the help of her supportive host family, two boys who compete for her attention, and a strange old man, Mila may learn a bit more than just Spanish this summer.
Through Mila, the author describes everything with an artist's eye for color and texture. These vivid descriptions, especially the kaleidoscope of colors, make us feel like we are actually there. Given their over-protective behavior, I found it hard to believe that Mila's parents allowed her to make this trip. The reasons for her mother's attitude become apparent later, but I still found them unwarranted. It was hard to warm to Mila, due to her penchant for hiding things from her parents, but my heart did break for her a few times, following the cruel behavior of her "friends". This is an inspirational story with a lot of religious references, yet the author never pushes her beliefs on the reader. Instead, the characters' religious beliefs are used to explain their actions. While both Mila and her mother make unwise choices, it's nice to see how both of them grow over the course of the summer.
Note to the author: I really wanted to see Mila's chalk sketch; it would make a nice addition to the end of the book.
Warnings: attempted sexual assault (not graphic), violence, drug references, underage drinking. Clean read, suitable for ages 14+.

Some of my Favorite Lines
"Flavors I couldn’t name danced over my tongue in a lively salsa."
"If summer had a smell, this would be it."
"Despite my best efforts, I can’t remain under my rain cloud with this ball of sunshine on my lap."
"If you seek perfection, you will not allow yourself to experiment. You will not grow as an artist… or as a person."
"My mother doesn’t fail me. I fail her."
"One step at a time, I’ll prove to her I can handle the world."
"If I had a hundred years to do nothing but draw, I still couldn’t capture the essence of this store."
"The warm, gushy feeling sliding down my chest has nothing to do with the melted layers of chocolate, though they are certainly delicious."
"I run my hand along the navy streak on the cream wall—like a dry paintbrush run across a rough canvas."
"I will find something she loves. Something to make her smile. I will show her, in at least one area, I did not screw up."
"I came to Mexico to find myself, except I’ve been searching in all the wrong places. And now I’m lost, in so many ways."
"Being alone and braless in a room with a boy would be risqué if it weren’t for the stomach virus and the fact that I resemble a zombie bride."
"With them, I’ve found the right rhythm. After weeks of practice, I learned my steps, and now they’re throwing me into a whole new dance—one the choreographer does not want me to know."
"I wander from painting to painting, drinking them in like one who’s been lost in the desert."
"For hours we lose ourselves amongst murals and sculptures and portraits so stunning they hurt. I have never and could never make something as beautiful, as touching, as these. The pain, the joy, the warmth, the sorrow jumps from the canvas and into my soul, moving me in ways I did not wish to feel."
"You’re beautiful, always. But when you see something new, something you want to draw, your face has this childlike wonder. Those beautiful brown eyes become so wide, and you have a smile unlike any other."
"... for a moment he’s the David who brought me soup when I was sick. Then he’s gone. He walks away, and I lock the door. With a sinking feeling, I realize I might never see that David again."

About the Author
Meg D. Gonzalez is a tea-sipping, adventure-seeking, pug-loving kind of girl. She’s crazy for God and wants to share His love with awesome young women around the globe.
She started her first novel at the age of fourteen (it will never see the light of day and that’s best for everyone), but her writing really came alive two years ago after she moved to Mexico. The crazy, wonderful people and culture she encountered inspired the story of Sketchy Tacos.
When she’s not writing, she’s learning to play video games with her husband (she’s horrible), taking hikes in beautiful parks with her pug Pascal, crocheting, and watching way too much TV.