Edited by Marco Lopez, Desiree Rodriguez, Hazel Newlevant, Derek Ruiz, and Neil Schwartz
Published by Lion Forge
Release date: March 14, 2018

Puerto Rico Strong is an immensely important book. It’s more than just a way to raise money or to call awareness to the tragedy occurring still every day in the isla del encanto. This book is an immersion into the very heart of Puerto Rico both past and present.

If you don’t know anything about the island and it’s people: read this book.

If you think you know everything there is to know about Puerto Rico: read this book.

It is like having a book form of the essence of Puerto Rico and the closest you can get to becoming Borikén without having been born by blood.

That we had to wait until tragedy struck to get a collection of stories dedicated to the island is a tragedy in and of itself but one of the few positives to come from the double hurricane strike. There should be no question that we need to reach out and help fellow human beings that are being crushed under the weight of the after effects of the hurricanes. This collection of stories, both fiction and non-fiction is a beautiful thank you to those that do donate or help in any way they can. It also serves as a continued reminder to a world that can so quickly forget what has happened the day before.

The stories that compromise this anthology are beautiful, funny, moving, and informative. Some of the writers have included very personal glimpses into their experiences both being and being in Puerto Rico. Stories like “Here” “Resilience by Lamplight” and “La Casita of American Heroes” give insight into the aftermath of the storm and the hope that remains for rebuilding and reconnecting. “La Operacion” and “La Broken P.R.O.M.E.S.A.” takes a look at important political and social tragedies that were occurring long before Puerto Rico faced last year’s hurricanes.

Stories like “Pasitos Grandes” and “Areytos give fascinating and sometimes poignant lessons about the history of the United States’ oft forgotten island paradise.  There is so much content included in these pages that the anthology is actually a semester of study abroad without having to leave your home. What makes it even better is the writing is full of passion, humor, and soul.

The artwork that accompanies each story flows onto the page like blood staining paper. The soul of the creators is plainly bared in each and every story that they bring life to. The variety of styles range from watercolor to ink to digital and some that look like web comics and others that are impressionistic museum pieces.

Some of the most gorgeous stories are those that deal with the history and legends of Puerto Ricos past. “El Vampiro de Moca” and “God of Boriken” definitely stand out as taking the past and bringing it to life with passion. Each story, though, is full of heart in their renditions and makes it hard to call out any in particular.

This anthology is alive. It is the beating heart of all of its contributors and a lasting testament to the descendants of the Taino peoples. The storytellers of the progenitors of Puerto Rico would be proud to see this collection from its people. Support Puerto Rico, it’s people and their legacy whether it by purchasing this collection or donating directly. Do what you can for your fellow humans.

The Verdict: 10/10

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