Book Review: Loteria by Mario Alberto Zambrano

Image result for lotería by mario alberto zambrano

Title: Loteria

Author: Mario Alberto Zambrano

Genre: Literary Fiction

Number of Pages: 288

Rating: B

Recommended?: Yes



Well, despite the high(ish) rating this book pissed me off. I ,loved about 90% of it and then the ending was a total disappointment. It was one of those endings where absolutely nothing was resolved and the protagonist learned absolutely nothing about herself or her garbage fire of a family through her heart-wrenching experiences. There’s no closure whatsoever except that the little girl is terribly damaged and screwed-up and will undoubtedly continue to be so for the foreseeable future.


Loteria has a beautiful format and each chapter is thematically linked to a card in the eponymous (and hugely popular) Hispanic card game. The main character, Luz, is only eleven and she’s been taken in by the state after a series of horrific events in her family. She doesn’t want to talk to therapists or police officers or anyone else but she gradually starts to use the cards in Loteria as a springboard for writing down what’s happened to her.


Luz’s parents are frankly horrible people and she has a troubled relationship with her older sister Estrella. Luz is a total daddy’s girl even though her father is a monster and treats her like absolute shit. When it comes out that she was molested by her older cousin, for instance, Luz’s father beats her senseless for being a ‘whore.’ I hated him so much and his wife didn’t provoke much sympathy for me either.


The girls’ extended family doesn’t support Estrella when she goes looking for help because of the abuse and they blame her and tell her not to disrespect her father. At this point, you know something really bad is going to happen but you don’t know when. I couldn’t stop turning pages, and I cared about Luz and I just wanted her to be okay and I wanted her dad to get what he deserved.


Luz is a vivid and powerfully written character who had some very unlikable traits, but I never stopped having hope for her. Too bad the author forgot to write an ending. Even the biggest questions were dropped super-casually. I wanted to throw the book across the room and maybe I would have if it weren’t so very, very pretty. Loteria engaged my emotions from square one and that made it even worse that it let me down so badly in the end.

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