Thirty Talks Weird Love

By: Alessandra Narváez Varela


A 13-year-old girl growing up in Mexico is visited by her 30-year-old future self in this powerful Young Adult novel in verse about accepting and loving yourself.



A 13-year-old girl growing up in Mexico is visited by her 30-year-old future self in this powerful Young Adult novel in verse about accepting yourself.

Out of nowhere, a lady comes up to Anamaria and says she’s her, from the future. But Anamaria’s thirteen, she knows better than to talk to some weirdo stranger.  Girls need to be careful, especially in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico—it’s the 90’s and fear is overtaking her beloved city as cases of kidnapped girls and women become alarmingly common. This thirty-year-old “future” lady 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 thirteen-year-old girl.

Alessandra Narváez Varela was born and raised in Ciudad Juárez, México. 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. This is her debut novel.

Narváez Varela reads from Thirty Talks Weird Love:

1 review for Thirty Talks Weird Love

  1. Booklist STARRED REVIEW
    [A] series of alternately cheeky, macabre, and serious vignettes about her family members, the city, and her classmates, Anamaria experiments with poetry structures and formats as she explores young womanhood and self-love…Fans of The House on Mango Street or The House of the Spirits will be riveted.

    Jasmine Warga, Newbery Honor-award winning author of Other Words For Home and My Heart and Other Black Holes
    In bold and gorgeous verse, Varela crafts a deeply moving and evocative story that grapples unflinchingly with issues of mental health. This is a book our young people need. Alessandra Narvaez Varela is a fresh new voice, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

    Publishers Weekly
    Debut author Narváez Varela’s inventive novel in verse plays with poetic form and time travel to detail a Mexican teen’s struggles with self-love and depression…Much like plumbing the contents of a poet’s composition notebook, this layered story rewards multiple reads.

    Francisco X. Stork, author of The Memory of Light
    A lyrical, deeply-felt portrayal of a young woman’s love for a broken city and a broken self, and the hard-won emergence of hope.

    Kirkus Reviews
    A gritty and absorbing tale of learning to love oneself and one’s roots, warts and all.

    Denise Chavez, bookseller, activist, and author of Loving Pedro Infante
    Devastatingly profound, at once exuberant and heartbreaking, Thirty Talks Weird Love, is filled with linguistic pyrotechnics and an expansive heart. Cd. Juárez/El Paso del Norte is elevated, and celebrated by Alessandra Narváez Varela , with a deep ferocity of understanding, mercy, and love. She holds the pulse of Border life powerfully in her hands. Healer she has become through her words.

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