About the Book
Title: Finding Amor
Author: Allison K. Garcia
Genre: Latino Christian Fiction
Release date: September 8, 2018
In a world filled with hate, how can you know what love is?
Escaping a violent and abusive environment, eight-year-old Emanuel Martinez attempts to cross through three countries to be with his mother, Ana, whom he hasn’t seen since he was a baby. When la migra catches him at the border and he’s thrown into an immigration center, his dreams for being a real family start to disappear.
Vowing never to be like her own mother who abandoned her and never looked back, Ana has worked for six years to get her son to the United States, Now Ana has to rely on her distant mother and her alcoholic boyfriend, Carlos, to finally get her son to her side so they can build a life together.
When Lauren Barrett agrees to help with the afterschool program, she soon realizes she’s bitten off more than she can chew. Growing up in an unsupportive home has made her insecure and vulnerable, plus suffering through years of infertility hasn’t helped matters. Yet she longs to do something meaningful with her life and wonders when that opportunity will come along. When a special young boy named Emanuel enters her life, he turns her worldview on its head.
As their lives intersect, will they help each other understand what family and love and home really mean?
About the Author
Allison K. Garcia is a Licensed Professional Counselor, but she has wanted to be a writer ever since she could hold a pencil. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Shenandoah Valley Writers, Virginia Writers Club, and is Municipal Liaison for Shenandoah Valley NaNoWriMo.
Allison’s short story, “At Heart,” was published in the Winter 2013 edition of From the Depths literary magazine, along with her flash fiction. Her work, “You Shall Receive,” was published in GrayHaven Comics’s 2014 All Women’s anthology. Winning an honorary mention in the ACFW Virginia 2015 short story contest, “Just Another Navidad” was published in A bit of Christmas. Allison’s book, Vivir el Dream, published May 2017, has won several prestigious awards: 2016 ACFW Genesis Contest Finalist, 2018 Eric J. Hoffer Montaigne Medal Finalist, Honorary Mention in the 2018 Eric. J. Hoffer Awards E-book category, and 2018 IAN Book of the Year Awards Finalist in the Christian/Relgious Fiction category. Her highly-anticipated novel, Finding Amor, was released in September 2018.
Latina at heart, Allison has been featured in local newspapers for her connections in the Latino community in Harrisonburg, Virginia. A member of cultural competency committees for work and a participant in several pro-immigrant rallies and other events in her region, she also sings on the worship team and enjoys get-togethers with the hermanos in her church. With the help of her husband, Julio, and their son, Miguel, she has been able to nurture her love for the Latino people.
Guest Post from Allison
It’s All About Love: Loving God and Loving Your Neighbor
Finding Amor is the first part of a larger series, Buscando Home, about a family from El Salvador broken through decades of war, violence, and distance. Finding Amor is the first glimpse into their world – why they are broken, some of what they’ve gone through, and how far they have to go in order to heal and find peace and home together. Finding Amor is about finding the love of family, God, and within ourselves. It also calls people to loving both God and their neighbors, the two main tenants of Christianity.
Since 2012, God has been calling me to write Latino Christian fiction. He led me to write my multi-awarding winning debut novel, Vivir el Dream, in 2012 and then in 2014, He led me to write Finding Amor.
Finding Amor was by a couple things in 2014. I was watching the news and saw a video of little kids on a bus near an immigration detention center. Outside the bus angry Americans were protesting, yelling at them and carrying signs. It broke my heart. I thought about how scary it must be for those small children to be surrounded by an angry mob after what was surely a traumatic border crossing. And I began to think how most likely some of those people yelling angrily at the children were also proclaiming to be Christians (as I had heard echoed sentiments in our community). I wanted to change the narrative. This is the first scene of my book. I wanted to give an insider perspective on how scary this is to experience as a child. The other thing that inspired my book was a true story from my church about how a little boy in the afterschool program came to Christ and subsequently brought many of the other little kids to salvation as well. That touched my heart, and from there my main character, Emanuel, was born.
My main goals for writing Latino Christian fiction are to have Latinos represented in Christian fiction, share God’s word, and show authentic stories of undocumented immigrants so that people can open their hearts and minds and grow in compassion and love and understanding. In showing real stories and explaining the whys and showing the human side to immigration, my hope is that people who have negative views towards immigrants will understand more and realize that we are called to love our neighbors, no matter what their documentation status or skin color or language, etc. I purposefully put a very diverse group of people in the book, because it represents America and also in Revelations is shows Heaven as a place where “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” people are praising God. Also there are important verses that remind us that we cannot love God if we do not love our neighbor. We cannot love God without loving our neighbor anymore than we can love our neighbor without loving God. This is another theme that is represented in Lauren’s story. Seeing her neighbors in a new light and seeing the love they show her, helps her grow to love others and herself more. So, for me, the trauma and drama and debates in the U.S. boil down to a lack of love.
My hope as a writer is that Finding Amor reminds them that everyone has a story. We often judge a book by its cover and as Christians, that’s not okay. We are called to love everyone, unconditionally. I hope that sticks with them.
The book is a realistic view of immigration in our country today. It is such a timely book that holds nothing back. We have seen on the news about people wanting to come to the U.S. for a better life. They are desperate and are willing to pay anything to get here. What we forget about is the children that are caught in the middle. This story opened my eyes and heart to a new way of thinking. Everyone wants a safe place to call home and to be loved. In this story we find a young boy trapped in one country and what he goes through to live in the U.S.
Emmanuel is a young boy who longs for his mother. It was hard to read all the things he saw and went through as he went to immigration camps. Emmanuel has seen brutality and felt hunger as he hoped someone would save him. When he is finally reunited with his mother Ana, I wasn't sure if Emmanuel was coming to a better environment. The boyfriend was horrible and I felt so bad that Ana and Emmanuel endured emotional abuse from him.
I did enjoy reading about the culture and the foods that Ana cooked. The story is rich in heritage and gives us a glimpse into their culture. I understand why Spanish was included in the story but it was hard for me to focus when I had to keep looking at the footnotes to understand what was being said. I'm hoping in the next book the author can find a better way to keep Spanish in the story but have the English meaning in an easier place so readers are not distracted.
For me, I loved the theme of the story which is love. We all come from different backgrounds,, but God desires us to love and accept each other. Emmanuel and his mom both suffered from lack of love and a feeling of belonging. I applaud the author for tackling a subject that is controversial but written with realism.
I loved the bond between Lauren and Emmanuel. Her need to have a child has broken her heart, but God had a plan for her. This young lost boy named Emmanuel needed someone just like Lauren to show him love and lead him to know who Jesus is. Each time she spends with Emmanuel and the other children in the after school program, God fills her heart with love for the children . Her desire had been answered by God but not in the way she thought it would happen. I loved how God gave Lauren lots of children to love on and it filled her with joy.
The ending is a big cliffhanger and I can't wait to read it. Thank you for writing a story that reminds us to love one another.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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To celebrate her tour, Allison is giving away a grand prize of gift basket that inlcudes a copy of The Ultimate Authorship Planner, 4 Christian novels, chocolate, and other surprise items!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/db10/finding-amor-celebration-tour-giveaway