Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
The Garden of Second Chances is a work of fiction in the social issues and interpersonal drama subgenres. It is intended for the older end of the young adult reading audience and contains no graphic material, but does make strong references to racial slurs, profanity, and issues of violence in prison settings. This unique and insightful tale, penned by Mona Alvarado Frazier, explores the results of immigration laws and wrongful imprisonment. Our protagonist, Juana Ivanov, finds herself incarcerated in California when she flees from her abusive husband and he dies, leaving Juana’s young baby in the care of her sister back in Mexico. Navigating prison life is hard enough, but then there’s the big wide world and what comes after she is released to deal with as well.
Mona Alvarado Frazier offers a deeply emotive and realistic work of fiction that young adult and adult audiences alike will find much to enjoy and consider when reading. A heartfelt tale with a likable and relatable protagonist, Juana’s struggles are beautifully and soulfully narrated. There’s a raw emotive fashion that sometimes cuts through the narrative to remind us that there are real people in similar situations in our world right now, much in the way that modern great writers like Angie Thomas have done recently. The author is a similarly powerful and empowering voice, delivering a detailed plot and interesting drama that we can learn from as much as we’re hooked by it. The Garden of Second Chances is a highly recommended read for fans of accomplished YA dramas and socially conscious fiction.