Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Sandra Lopez, the author of the newly published young adult novel, Beyond the Gardens (2009), is a literary force to watch. She has been precocious for most of her life: reading books at the age of two, being the first in her family to graduate from high school and college, being one of the youngest emerging authors today. She recently received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from California State University, Fullerton, and is ready to take on the literary world.

Her first novel was published before Sandra graduated from college. This debut book, Esperanza: A Latina Story (2008), depicts a teenager from a poverty-stricken home marked by domestic abuse, alcoholism and other drug abuse, gangland connections among her father and other relatives, and a saddening absence of hope for the future. Her barrio, Hawaiian Gardens in Los Angeles, could easily defeat her, as a friend tries to tie her down to early marriage at the cost of her education. When Esperanza enters high school, she faces bullies, peer pressure to meet low expectations, and the tremendous possibility that she, too, will become just another Latina dropout. Esperanza has no role models, no home support, but she finds strength she did not realize she had and fights against obstacles to fulfill her dreams.

In her new book, a sequel, Esperanza is now 18 years old and enrolled in an art college, pursuing her dreams with financial aid. Her life is upended when friends from her past re-enter: Carlos, who is now interested in her romantically, and his sister, Carla, who had urged Esperanza to marry her brother while in high school. Esperanza also contends with her roommate, a rich Chicana; and with Jake, a hunky mechanic who seems to be her soulmate. Life becomes complicated for Esperanza as she constantly wonders what is “beyond the gardens” of her barrio, and what life can possibly hold for her.

Both of Sandra’s books are available through You can visit her website at .


Book Club Reader said...

Thanks for previewing my two novels on your blog, Thelma! I appreciate your support! I hope you enjoyed Esperanza's story. Most people are inspired by her, and by extension, me! Therefore, I highly encourage you to spread the word about her.

Thelma T. Reyna said...

You're welcome, Sandra. I am so impressed by your literary precocity! I recently discovered you and your website and decided to learn more about you. I love writing about others' work, because I believe strongly that authors must support one another. I notice that you'll be at the Latino Book & Family Festival in L.A. in October. Me, too! I hope to meet you! Continued success to you!

pg said...

Hawaiian Gardens? I am intrigued. This indeed sounds interesting.

As someone who is a fugitive from the LA Co. Sheriffs, this novel is as close as I can get to that part of California.

[DrTR: the link to Sandra's blog needs to be fixed, methinks].

Thelma T. Reyna said...

Hello, Plastic Grad. Nice to hear from you again. Thanks for your comment about my Sandra Lopez review. Yes, check out her books. You might try just typing in her website address. I'm not always successful in setting up links. Stay in touch!