Book Review: Canto Conmigo

by Owen
February 1, 2024


Canto Contigo by Jonny Garza Villa is a fiesta for your feelings, performing a mariachi serenade of bittersweet romance against a sun-drenched Texas backdrop. This YA gem pits Rafie, a cis gay Mexican-American cutie with a mic in his hand and a dream in his heart, against Rey, a gay Afro-Mexicano trans boy, his one-time hookup and eventual high school mariachi band rival. Rafie’s life is a whirlwind of rivalry, grief, and family expectations. The magical realism woven into the story, embodied by a mariachi calavera, adds a touch of the extraordinary to Rafie’s journey of self-discovery. Villa paints every page with vibrant scenes of Latine pride and familia love, tugging at your heartstrings as Rafie juggles tradition and his own damn desires. Rafie’s relatable struggle with perfectionism is so real. And Rafie and Rey’s romance is a perfectly seasoned salsa–tangy banter, simmering frustration, and a slow burn that melts into a sweet, swoon-worthy finale, making Canto Contigo an anthem for finding your own harmony, no matter whose tune you’re supposed to be singing.