In a review of best debut books of 2010, the reviewer says Vida by Patricia Engel is excellent. "You won't forget Sabina, the troubled, mouthy young Colombian-American woman at the heart of Patricia Engel's debut collection (the stories form a novelistic narrative)...Mostly told in Sabina's matter of fact voice, Vida feels like shards of memory. As if all that is left when things blow up—as they always do for Sabina—are these beautiful pieces."
From The New York Times:
The stories in Patricia Engel’s striking debut collection are like snapshots from someone’s photo album: glimpses of relatives, friends, lovers and acquaintances, sometimes posing, sometimes caught by the camera unawares. There are portraits of Latinos in suburban “Gringolandia,” and portraits of young drifters in Miami, 16 of them sharing a single apartment, mattresses crammed together on the floor “like it was war times.” There’s a skinny 16-year-old boy who always wears faded jeans and “a white button-down shirt that looked like it only got washed in the sink,” a high school mean girl who develops a fatal case of anorexia, a womanizing pot dealer who becomes the narrator’s best friend and a Colombian beauty queen who comes to America and is forced into prostitution.