A devastatingly beautiful work of fiction that won a 2013 Lambda Literary Award. Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s collection of stories are linked by their setting — the border towns of El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico — and by themes of love and hate, poverty and prosperity, anger and angst. Sáenz writes in plain language that evokes powerful emotions as his characters, mostly young Hispanics, recount lives touched by loss, addiction, prejudice and lack of parental love or guidance. Writing in the first person, the author creates an intimate connection often created by a memoir. One story, “Chasing the Dragon,” about two orphans, is heartrending enough to elicit a physical reaction in the reader. But each of the seven stories holds its own surprise and power to manipulate the reader’s emotions. This is the first book I’ve read by Sáenz, but I hope to read many more.