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“This book is an act of love . . . It will break you apart and remind you that we can all be put back together again, stronger, and wiser than before.” — XOCHITL GONZALEZ, New York Times bestselling author of Olga Dies Dreaming


An emotionally riveting coming-of-age drama about two cousins lured into the underground drug trade at a young age and the inextricable ties that bind them, as one woman seeks power and the other seeks a way out—the debut of a vibrant and stunningly original new voice in fiction.

Carmen and Grace have been inseparable since they were little girls, more like sisters than cousins, survivors of a childhood marked by neglect and a system that never valued them—for too long all they had was each other. That is, until Doña Durka swept into their lives, providing stability and support and hope for the future.


Durka is more than a beneficent force in their Bronx neighborhood, though. She’s also the leader of an underground drug empire, a larger-than-life matriarch in a world too often ruled by violent men. So, when Durka dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances, Carmen and Grace’s lives are thrown into chaos. Grace has been primed to take over and has grand plans for the business, while Carmen is ready to move on. She’s tired of always looking over her shoulder in fear and harboring a secret: she’s pregnant and starting to show. But how can Carmen leave the only family she’s ever known—this tight sisterhood of lost girls turned skilled professionals under Durka’s guiding hand—especially now, when outside threats are circling, and Grace’s plans are speeding recklessly forward?


As tough and tender as its main characters, Carmen and Grace will grab readers from the first page with its raw beauty, depth of feeling, and heart-pounding plot. A moving meditation on the choices of women and the legacy of violence, it’s a devastatingly wise and intimate story about the bonds of female friendship, ambition, and found family. 

Aquino, M. | Carmen and Grace

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