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Wordy Wednesday: González & Daughter Trucking Co. by María Amparo Escandón

González and Daughter Trucking Co by María Amparo Escandón with a hand drawn bookmark beside it and a red background

The bright cover of González & Daughter Trucking Co. by María Amparo Escandó got my attention, and the novel itself hooked me with the first sentence, in which Libertad wishes she could bring back all of the people she killed.

Continuing to read, I find Libertad to be unassuming, kind, and gentle-mannered. How could she have killed anyone?

The story unfolds as Libertad leads her fellow inmates in Library Club on Wednesdays at Mexicali Penal Institution for Women. Picking up a random book to read and turning to any page, Libertad goes through the motions of reading out loud, only the story that comes out is her own.

Living with her father, in the truck that is both their home and their livelihood, Libertad grows up without a mother, without friends, without the security of routine or even the comfort of personal belongings, since the truck has no room for her to keep the secondhand books she occasionally finds in their travels.

Libertad’s story leads me to wonder, what makes a place home? A relatively permanent fixture, home enables routine and community. Home is a place to belong and a place to keep your belongings. For a child, home is a place to be nurtured and cared for.

In this way, being in prison is Libertad’s first time living in a home. She has her best friend Maciza, the consistency of the institution’s schedule and rules, Warden Gúzman (my favorite character) to take care of her and the rest of the women, a place to recover and process her past.

Over the course of the novel I forgot to wonder why Libertad is in prison, how she came to kill, because nothing could be further from her character. Libertad seems to deserve a home that is so much better than prison.

Author María Amparo Escandón takes her time establishing her characters in a way that makes the story move slowly at first, but the plot picks up in the last quarter, when the novel’s slow start pays off: the characters’ actions line up with who they are, making for a satisfying finish.

Below are three words from González & Daughter Trucking Co., the sentence in which I found them, their Oxford definitions, and for each a sentence of my own with the word in it.

1. esplanade

“Over nine thousand soldiers armed with assault weapons arrived at ten sharp in buses, Jeeps, and artillery tanks, and ordered everyone to lie belly-down out on the esplanade” (40).

Noun: a long, open level area, typically beside the sea, along which people may walk for pleasure.

Both the wedding ceremony and reception were held on the esplanade with the historic building in the background.

2. dewlap

“He was a skinny, tall white man with a long nose and a big dewlap” (80).

Noun: a fold of loose skin hanging from the neck or throat of an animal, especially that present in many cattle.

Jowls hang from the jaw whereas a dewlap hangs below the chin.

3. ethereal

“She was a thin, pale, and ethereal woman with long strands of gray hair”(135).

Adjective: extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world. Heavenly or spiritual.

The resonant Tibetan singing bowls and ethereal tinkle of wind chimes deepened the meditation practice.

Have you seen words from past Wordy Wednesdays out in the world? Every time I do, I feel a jolt of recognition and gratification. Hey! I know that word! I hope you too will feel the delight and triumph when you recognize and use words from Wordy Wednesday.

Thanks for joining me. Happy reading!

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