I have had a lot going on in my life recently, but I finally finished reading a book I have had for a while, “The Girls from the Revolutionary Cantina“, by Mike Padilla. (Full disclosure: Mike is one of my best friends, and I have more than a passing shame at waiting so long to have read his first novel, which came out a few months ago). The book tells the story of a group of Latina friends in the San Fernando Valley, centered on the main character of Julia. I was completely riveted by the unexpected twists and turns in the plot, the story a compelling and relatable soap opera of friendship’s ups and downs and evolutions. And when I say soap opera, I mean it in a good way. Mike has an amazing way of making disparate events come together in believable, thrilling climaxes. He is able to capture something essential about the flavor of his characters’ lives while reaching into all of ours. In particular the idea (that has long been central in my own experience) that one never knows what is “good” or “bad” as the events of our lives unfold. And how so very often the seemingly worst events turn out to be the best thing to happen to us, altering our lives in incredible ways. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip I took with these characters (I would love to see this made into a movie), and I highly recommend it.