book cover of Malas
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A novel by

“A vivacious, page-turning novel of rebellion and rebirth.” —Xochitl Gonzalez, New York Times bestselling author of Olga Dies Dreaming and Anita de Monte Laughs Last

A story full of passion and revenge, following one family living on the Texas Mexico border and a curse that reverberates across generations"Fuentes has achieved something rare and indelible with this story of complex women.” (Erika L. Sánchez)
In 1951, a mysterious old woman confronts Pilar Aguirre in the small border town of La Cienega, Texas. The old woman is sure Pilar stole her husband and, in a heated outburst, lays a curse on Pilar and her family.

More than forty years later, Lulu Muñoz is dodging chaos at every turn: her troubled father’s moods, his rules, her secret life as singer in a punk band, but most of all her upcoming quinceañera. When her beloved grandmother passes away, Lulu finds herself drawn to the glamorous stranger who crashed the funeral and who lives alone and shunned on the edge of town.

Their unexpected kinship picks at the secrets of Lulu’s family’s past. As the quinceañera looms—and we move between these two strong, irascible female voices—one woman must make peace with the past, and one girl pushes to embrace her future.

Rich with cinematic details—from dusty rodeos to the excitement of a Selena concert and the comfort of conjunto ballads played at family gatherings—this memorable debut is a love letter to the Tejano culture and community that sustain both of these women as they discover what family means.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"Fuentes' stunning debut shows us the sweeping mythic stature of the past alongside and running beneath the tactile and urgent present. Her gifts with storytelling and character propel us naturally from time to time in this gripping narrative of grief and release." - Aimee Bender

"Malas is a marvel. At once epic and intimate, is packed with a cast of unforgettable characters - teenage members of a punk band, frustrated fathers trying to outrun a curse, women whose friendship transcends time and circumstance - all desperate to be seen. And Marcela Fuentes lets us see these characters in all their facets and flaws as we laugh, cry, and live alongside them." - Vanessa Chan

"Malas gorgeously captures both the vibrancy and the cost of becoming the kind of woman who sets her own path, creates her own rituals, and mourns her own losses. Marcela Fuentes writes with a visceral precision about family, grief, and what it means to move through the world holding on to both your independence and your ties to community. This is a dazzling, heartbreaking, and triumphant debut." - Danielle Evans

"Fuentes seamlessly knits familiar history and urban legend with a heartfelt, modern, coming of age story to deliver a vivacious, page-turning novel of rebellion and rebirth. The truth, in the hands of Fuentes lively and beautiful prose, liberates these characters and the reader alike." - Xochitl Gonzalez

"Malas ensnares you with its antic energy, vibrant secrets, and the wickedly smart, self-assured Lulu at the center of it all. An enviably electric debut from Marcela Fuentes, who knows in her bones that the bad girls living in family cuentos, in telenovelas, and in town gossip are also the ones that glow with the brightest fire inside." - Manuel Muñoz

"Malas is a machete: sharp, terrifying, and beautiful. Each character feels dynamic, familiar, and so utterly human in their glorious messiness. Fuentes has achieved something rare and indelible with this story of complex women." - Erika L Sánchez

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