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Magical Realism for Non-Believers: A Memoir of Finding Family

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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  153 ratings  ·  71 reviews
A young woman from Minnesota searches out the Colombian father she’s never known in this powerful exploration of what family really means

He loved Colombia too much to leave it. The explanation from her Minnesotan mother was enough to satisfy a child’s curiosity about her missing father. But at twenty-one, Anika Fajardo wanted more. She wanted to know her father better and
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Hardcover, 192 pages
Published April 16th 2019 by Univ Of Minnesota Press
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Michelle
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the “Magical Realism For Non-Believer’s: A Memoir of Finding Family” (2019) author Anika Fajardo would begin her journey in young adulthood to meet her father she never knew and understand her family dynamic. When she flew to Colombia in 1995, the region was one of the most lawless, corrupt, and violent places on the face of the earth—with high murder rates linked to gang activity and the drug trade. This wouldn’t stop fearless Anika, as an only child she was eagerly welcomed by her father Re ...more
Sarah
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
I feel kind of bad giving a memoir such a low rating but I just didn't find this all that compelling. I'd agree with other reviewers who've said it jumped around a bit too much, too. Not for me unfortunately.

Thank you Netgalley and University of Minnesota Press for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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Anita Ojeda
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Magical realism, for those who wonder, is a literary genre perfected by Columbian novelist Gabriel García Márquez in his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. A book with magical realism has a fictional world that seems like the modern world in which we live, yet the story contains a magical or other-worldly element that seems impossible to believe.

Anika Fajardo goes on a quest to find family and country in this nuanced and beautiful memoir. It starts with Farjardo’s journey to Columbia to visit
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Lolly K Dandeneau
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/
'Not quite foreign, not quite domestic.'

There is something about the above line that beautifully expresses the assumptions made about mixed race children, particularly when it wasn’t as common in our author’s youth as it is today. Skin color, ethnic features tend to be used as a map for other people to ‘tell your story’, which more often than not is wrong. Then there are expectations we cling to ourselves, as Anika Fajardo wanted to embrace her
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John
Sep 21, 2019 rated it liked it
My mother's parents divorced when she was three. My grandmother, who had custody, never remarried; my grandfather did so (he died when I was eight), had two more children, and relocated to central Maine. I never met him (unless as an infant), but his widow remembered our family without fail at birthdays and Christmas.

I mention this as the author's later-in-life connection to her father, stepmother and (previously unknown) half-brother reminded me of meeting my grandfather's family as a college s
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Cindy
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-netgalley, 2019
At 21 years of age, Anika decides to visit Columbia to meet the father she doesn't really know. Leaving Minnesota where she grew up with her mother took courage. But she felt the need to know her roots.

I enjoyed reading how the relationship grew between her and her father. It was a very touching tale and the author did a good job at describing her feelings and emotions. And yes, family is what you make it.

* I was a provided an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher. It was my own decision to read
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Veronica
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Quick review: What a magical & lovely ride. I ended the book in tears. If I had been at home it woulda been sobs.
SundayAtDusk
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
This had to be one of the most melancholic and melodramatic memoirs I have ever read. Author Anika Fajardo’s parents divorced when she was very young. After meeting and marrying in Colombia, her father’s homeland, her mother decided to end the marriage and return to Minnesota with their only child. Ms. Fajardo didn’t get to know her father until she was an adult. He did not tell her about a half-brother who lived in the United States until she was an adult. That’s all, folks. In this book, the a ...more
Alana
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don’t like reviewing memoirs in the traditional sense because, well, how can you rate someone’s life story? But in this case, I will heartily say this memoir deserves 5 books. Fajardo grew up in Minnesota with her mother, never feeling like she fit in with the fair-skinned blonde kids. At 19, she travels to Columbia to meet her father to try to piece together their shared past. Her father is thrilled to see her and he and his wife try to make her feel welcome in this colorful and dangerous pla ...more
Girl
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you!

A beautifully written story of a young woman with an American mother and a Colombian father who grew up in the United States and who discovers her Colombian ancestry and family only when she is a young adult. She first consciously meets her father at over twenty, and only later does she learn about other unknown members on that side of her family.

It was a compelling and fascinating read. Fajardo has a gift for gorgeous
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Deborah Hightower
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2019
Thank you NetGalley for the e-ARC of Magical Realism for Non-Believers by Anika Fajardo. This was a wonderful memoir about Anika Farjado's journey to try to understand why her parents split up when she was a young child and why her father chose to stay in Columbia. Taught in school that a family has a father and mother, Anika feels compelled to learn about the father that has been missing from her life. This story held my interest throughout. Anika went through family ups and downs and in the en ...more
Lissete
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read an ARC for this book from Netgalley and the University of Minnesota Press, provided in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes you feel like a book is speaking to your soul, even if the experiences being described in it are such that you can't relate, even if what's going on is so foreign to you that it's sometimes hard for you to comprehend how people (and since this is a memoir, real people) could behave in a particular way.

This book was one of those, for me. There was something about t
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Jill Dobbe
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Anika Fajardo tells her story of being born in a small town in Colombia to a Colombian man and an American woman. In the telling of her story, Fajardo bounces back and forth from her earliest years, to the relationship between her parents, to the life she eventually led with her mother in Minnesota. She eventually visits Colombia again as an adult and develops a lasting relationship with her father. Along the way Fajardo also learns she has a brother, which adds another dimension to her idea of ...more
Linda Wright
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I discovered this title during my search for a book to compare to my own memoir, which I'm currently pitching on the open market while trying to find an agent. Magical Realism for Non Believers is a memoir about finding family as is mine. But to me that's where the similarity ends.

Anika was born in Columbia but raised in Minnesota by her single mother. Her mother returned home after a short lived marriage to a Columbian man she met while in college. Anika remembers little about the father left b
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Alexandra Alessandri
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a beautiful and moving memoir. For those of us who are American-born children of immigrants, especially Colombians, this memoir will resonate. It explores a search of self through a reconnection of roots, and echoes a truth of beauty and violence that I know from personal experience. The language is gorgeous and evocative, reminiscent of heightened attention to language found in magical realism. The story is familiar: an adult child in search of reconnecting with the father who abandone ...more
Regina Mastrogiacomo
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing

I Recommend This Book

Strongly
I found the book both fascinating and sad as the author explores all the new surprises in her life. I don't want to give away what the surprise is that makes the author doubt her life, but I'll just say if it happen to me, I would also be angry and feel like an outsider when I shouldn't .
Loved all the people who Fajardo talks about in the book, but I wanted to know more about what happens next after she returns home, does she contact those she feels strongly about
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Janilyn Kocher
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fajardo's memoir is an absorbing read. Born in Columbia, but reared in Minnesota, she knew nothing about her father who still resided in South America. Gradually, she began corresponding with him and visited him when she was twenty one. She flashes back to her parents' fractured marriage, a story I found equally fascinating. Only, she discovers she has more family that she wasn't aware she had. I enjoyed reading her story and about a different culture. The book cover is very eye catching. Thanks ...more
Mar B
THIS OWNVOICE STORY WAS BEAUTIFUL AND ENCHANTING!

Warning: there are deathbed and terminal illness scenes.

This was joyful and heartbreaking at the same the time. But mostly, it was like going home, in every sense of the way, physically and emotionally, which is usually a bittersweet experience. This story resonated with me at so many levels!

I often try to imagine my kids visiting the country were I was born and how it would look through their eyes all the strange shapes, color, sounds, smells a
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Estee
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
Darn. I keep forgetting that I am not the right person to read and review memoirs. I keep realizing that this is not the genre for me but gosh darn it if the title and cover didn’t pull me in!

This is what it is. It’s a memoir of a daughter looking to re-connect with her father and to define what family means to her.

I thought that it was good but I read it after “The Poet X” and that is a hard book to follow. It was an interesting enough story. I just felt that it was lacking emotion. Everythin
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Pam
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. I almost felt like I was reading poetry. Explores themes of home, family, and belonging.
Rebecca
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars - Full review will be posted on my blog on 2nd April but can be moved upon request.

Interesting read about a woman who meets her father 20 years after her mother moved them away from him. She explores what it was like to grow up in a single parent as half-Columbian and meeting her father and being introduced to Columbian culture and trying to improve her Spanish.

She discovers years later that she has a brother who was born just a couple of weeks before she was. They navigate their famil
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Carolyn
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was such an engaging read -- a voice I just wanted to hang out with. It's a personal memoir, buti it opens into so many other ideas -- about culture, place, family, mistakes, travel, moving forward, the past ... all in just beautiful real-life detail that is sometimes literally breathtaking. Highly recommend! ...more
B.
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How could you rate a memoir poorly? Unless it was badly written, which this clearly is not. It doesn't matter that it meanders, because it is memories. ...more
Suzanne Bhagan
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Published by the University of Minnesota Press, Magic Realism for Non-Believers is a memoir from Anika Fajardo, a Latinx author who was born in Colombia but grew up in Minnesota. She is the product of an American mother and a Colombian father.

The crux of her story is that she, having grown up in a single-parent home, never really knew Renzo, her father, or her Latinx heritage. The memoir details how the author gradually reaches out to her artist father through letters, eventually visiting him a
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Emily
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the very beginning of this book, we learn that the author (a college student at the time) traveled to Colombia to spend time with a father she hardly knew. Instead of that being the entire plot of the story, it is just the jumping-off point.

In the rest of the book, Anika Fajardo tells the story of what happened after that visit, as well as the events leading up to it. She explains how she was born in Colombia but grew up in Minnesota, raised by her mom. After reconnecting with her father, sh
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Brenda
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Anika’s memoir. She was honest, sincere and took us to a place that many of us have never been. By this I don’t mean visiting Colombia, although her descriptions were excellent . I mean having parents spit between two countries. I was captivated by her detailed descriptions of Colombia, having never been, I have a very colorful image of it now. Her honesty regarding her feelings for her Dad, his wife, her Colombian family and newly discovered brother were a breath of fresh air. ...more
Terry
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Anika Fajardo was born in Colombia to a Colombian father and an American mother. Her parents divorced when she was too young to remember her father and her mother raised her in Minnesota. As a young adult, Anika decides to travel to Colombia to meet the father she's never really known. Her memoir is a thoughtful and honest account of what it feels like to grow up as the child of a single parent, to grow up mixed raced, and to grow up as an only child longing for a sibling...or is she an only chi ...more
Jamie
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
In Magical Realism for Non Belivers, Fajardo takes the reader on her journey to reunite with her absent father in Colombia as she reckons with her connection/ disconnection from her culture and family lineage.

Short chapters moving through time catalogue the memories that give context to her time in Colombia, allowing the reader to understand the ways in which Fakardo is building a deeper sense of identity. Her writing is descriptive and straightforward, leaving space for a strong emotional hone
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Karlyn
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this memoir and STRONGLY recommend it. A great memoir for a mother/daughter book club--or any book club. My book club members loved it. The writing is beautiful. The story of a young woman traveling to Colombia, the place of her birth, the place where a family she doesn't remember waits to embrace her after years apart is truly magical. This memoir is about discovering family. It is a universal theme that everyone can relate to--the choices family members make that bring people together ...more
Faith 09
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very beautiful memoir.
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Anika Fajardo was born in Colombia and raised in Minnesota. She is the author of two books inspired by that experience. Her memoir, Magical Realism for Non-Believers, was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. She is also the author of the middle-grade novel, What If a Fish (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) about a half-Colombian boy's search for family and belonging. She lives in Minne ...more

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