Felipe Reynoso’s Lala Surviving follows Isabella “Lala” Velez as she tries to make it through a tumultuous period in her life. The protagonist is a driven, hardworking young woman, who seems to have her life all together. She has a work life one can only wish for, a great relationship with her parents, and a supportive boyfriend. On top of that, she’s a straight-A student at her community college. Beneath the surface, however, she’s struggling with anxiety and depression, and lately, the symptoms have been bubbling up to the surface. While she continues working toward her goals to succeed at school and in the business world, she has to confront her issues.
The strength of the novel lies in the plot. The storyline carries Lala through the ups and downs of adulthood. Her mental issues affect her relationship with her boyfriend, who wants her to dedicate herself to getting stable so they can continue their relationship. After witnessing an assault on her coworker, Lala begins to spiral. Her anxiety attacks turn into fainting spells, and news comes at her more quickly than she can handle. Still, Lala perseveres and takes the steps she needs to get better.
Author Felipe Reynoso does a good job of illustrating what it’s like to have depression and anxiety, especially for someone trying to move up in life while losing loved ones and watching those she is close to go through intense hardship. Lala often needs space to deal with the issues on her mind and the intense physical feelings which sometimes accompany the negative thoughts, but luckily, she has a good support system that won’t allow her to completely isolate herself and drown in her thoughts and emotions.
With her small but tight social circle, Lala does more than survive. She is surrounded by people who support her in words and actions, even at her job in an industry where most workers are treated as expendable. Her internal and external struggles aren’t hers alone to bear, and that’s something everyone needs. Forces outside our control make it difficult, but life doesn’t wait until someone is in the right state of mind to deal with it.
In Lala Surviving, Felipe Reynoso articulately narrates Lala’s social environment, which makes the difference between failing, surviving, and thriving; bringing realistic plot themes to a fictional tale. Felipe Reynoso has crafted a relatable protagonist, has shined a bright light on important coming-of-age challenges, and teaches readers the importance of living in the moment.
- Candace L. Barr, Hollywood Book Reviews