Review: Neverforgotten by Alejandra Algorta

Posted April 20, 2022 by Richetta in Book Reviews, Middle Grades / 0 Comments

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I received this book for free from Levine Querido and Libro.fm in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Review: Neverforgotten by Alejandra AlgortaNeverforgotten by Alejandra Algorta, Translated by Aida Salazar
Narrator: Andres Macias Hernandez, Christopher Salazar
Length: 3 hours and 23 minutes
Illustrator: Ivan Rickenmann
Published by Levine Querido on October 26, 2021
Genres: Juvenile Fiction / Diversity & Multicultural, JUVENILE FICTION / People & Places / Caribbean & Latin America, JUVENILE FICTION / Social Themes / New Experience
Pages: 288
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: Levine Querido and Libro.fm
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop
Goodreads

Fabio flies through the streets of Bogotá on his bicycle, the children of his neighborhood trailing behind him. It is there that life feels right--where the world of adults, and their lies, fades away. But then one day, he simply forgets. Forgets how to ride his bicycle. And Fabio will never be the same again.

From Colombia comes a special debut talent, Alejandra Algorta, and a first novel of discovery and heartbreak. Algorta's distinct and poetic prose has been translated by award-winning author Aida Salazar, and presented in English and Spanish.

They say you never forget how to ride a bike…but is that really true?

Beautiful Words and Flow

For some stories that I read, an automatic calm-voiced narrator pops into my head. Neverforgotten by Alejandra Algorta is one of those stories. The words feel like the illustrations. As you read, you feel like you are an invisible observer to Fabio’s story floating above (sometimes through) the dust of Bogota, the wind and moving along the sweeping rivers that move to the sea. The words are constantly, gently moving you forward through Fabio’s story.

This middle grades debut novel by Colombian author Alejandra Algorta is presented in both English and Spanish. I read the English translation that was translated by Aida Salazar.

When Your Truth is Shaken

At the heart of Fabio’s story is the question of what does it mean when something you understand as a solid truth turns out to not be true. Fabio and his parents operate off the solid truth that you can’t forget how to ride a bike. It’s a “memory of the body.” But one day, 10 year old Fabio wakes up and goes to get on his bike to make bread deliveries for his mother, but he can no longer ride his bike. No matter how hard he tries. He cannot stay on the bike without falling off.

 - Find & Share on GIPHY
Fabio was cruisin’ the streets of Bogota on his bike until one day…

Freedom

His bike is his freedom. It keeps from being swallowed by the dust monster, known as Bogota. When he rides his bike through the city, it’s like the dust can’t settle on him or touch him. He is a conqueror with a pack of followers that follow him on his bike wherever he goes. But his inability to ride his bike leaves him vulnerable to being swallowed up by constantly busy and moving dust monster that is the city of Bogota.

The story goes from joyful, with riding his bike as Fabio’s form of a freedom, to melancholy with Fabio hiding in his home because he doesn’t want to walk and be swallowed by the dust. But there is a point of light that comes from this unraveling of truth for Fabio. He gets to spend time with Alicia, known as mamalicia to the neighborhood. Together they explore truth and lies as Fabio processes his predicament.

Slow Down and Enjoy It

Salma Hayek Dancing GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
A quiet kitchen is one that produces bland food. Enjoy yourself Ana!

Since this story is originally written in Spanish, I’m not sure if I am missing any nuances, but it felt like a book that combined both the written and the oral storytelling traditions. It’s a beautiful debut and coming-of-age story that explores personal truth, discovery and heartbreak. I recommend slowing down and reading this book. Take notes, think about the tapestry the author paints with her words. This is definitely a book that you should discuss afterwards.

Listen to the Audiobook Too

I also listened to the audiobook of Neverforgotten by Alejandra Algorta on my first read. I recommend it. The narrators are awesome. It was like sitting at the feet of a storyteller. Thanks to Libro.fm for the Educator ALC!

HAVE A SIP OF COCOA ☕…

I came for… the supposed simplicity of a story about a boy who forgets how to ride his bike.

I stayed for… the beautiful layers of emotions woven into the book

Hot Cocoa Moments: When Fabio’s mother was like oh you like my cooking but you don’t like that the kitchen is joyful and noisy because I sing and dance to bachata while I cook…deuces! (I was chuckling)

Would I Read it Again: Yes, and I did already. This is the kind of story that makes you think of the craft of writing.

Educator Recommendations:  Neverforgotten by Alejandra Algorta is a great book to just explore storytelling and use of language with students. I would delve into structure, character developments, establishment of conflict, etc. If you have English Learners and/or Spanish Immersion, they will benefit from the original Spanish version, because the book has both. You can even discuss what is gained and what is lost when a work is translated. I would also utilize the images and have students select lines from the book that they could match up with each illustration. Intro to the Book by the Author

Check out the other books on my April Reading List: April Reading Goals: Spring Break Reads

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