Ander & Santi Were Here: A Novel by Jonny Garza Villa

Ander & Santi Were Here: A Novel by Jonny Garza Villa

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Nonbinary teen Ander is ready to leave their family's taquerâia and focus on their art, but when Santi, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, begins to work at the restaurant, the two teens spark a romance made complicated by immigration police.

The Santos Vista neighbourhood of San Antonio, TX is all Ander Lopez has ever known. The smell of pan dulce, the laughter of kids hitting a pinata at the park, the mixture of Spanish and English filling the streets. And, especially, their job at the family's taqueria.

So as the days count down on their gap year until the day they'll leave for art school in Chicago, their head is filled with one relentless question: am I really ready to leave it all behind?

Their family, however, has the opposite worry: to keep them from becoming complacent, they "fire" Ander so they can focus on their murals and prepare for college. That is, until they meet Santiago Garcia, the hot new waiter. Ander is immediately crushing and slides back into a few shifts, desperate to spend more time with him.

A couple nights closing down the restaurant together; late night drives to drop Santi off after work; falling for each other is as natural as breathing. Through Santi's eyes, Ander finally understands everything they are and want to be as an artist, and Ander becomes Santi's first step toward making Santos Vista and the U.S. feel like home.

But they start to realize how fragile that sense of home is when vans are spotted following Santi on his walks to work. When ICE agents are waiting for them at Ander's house. When they begin to feel like the entire world is against them.

And when, eventually, the outside world starts to.

Paperback / 368 pages