Saturday, March 17, 2018

Blog Tour + Review + #Giveaway: Queen of Corona by Esterhazy @XpressoTours

Queen of Corona
Publication date: December 15th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult

Roza Esterhazy is a mixed-up kid. Eighteen years old and on the threshold of adulthood, she feels powerless in the face of a world that hasn’t adequately prepared her for adult life. She is riddled with anxiety about the world’s problems, the problems of her classmates at an inner-city high school in Corona, Queens. As an American of multicultural heritage (Polish-Jewish on her mother’s side, Venezuelan on her father’s) she struggles to find her place in society where the odds are stacked against people like her.

At the outset, she is on an airplane heading to Warsaw – the city of her ancestors, a city she’d never been to before. The city her mother had fled from in the 1980s because of an article she’d written that had offended the authorities. Roza’s voyage is a kind of reverse immigration – she’s escaping from America back to Poland because of a student protest that ended in tragedy. She alludes to the protest and its bloody end throughout the novel, with flashbacks tormenting her traumatized mind to the very end. When she arrives in Warsaw, she struggles to come to terms with what happened and what part she played in the tragedy. She grapples with the concept of guilt and blame – were the students to blame for what happened or was it the fault of overzealous police? She weighs how fear quells courage in an oppressive society. She confronts the grey reality of post-war Warsaw and realizes that there’s very little of it that she can identify with. She retraces history’s steps through the Polish capital and the former ghetto of WW2.

Her longing for home is visceral, reflected in the flashbacks of school and relationships that are woven through her daily existence. Flashbacks that reflect the absurdity of the inner-city high school experience, where kids are meant to learn an inimical thread of history that has little to do with their own reality, that places many of them in the position of the conquered and exploited.

Queen of Corona is a look into the inner life of the inner city. A foray into the mind and heart of a young woman on the cusp of adulthood, torn from her destiny because she dared to stand up and speak up for those who don’t have a voice. A glimpse inside the hopeless hallways of New York City’s failing public schools. It is a coming-of-age novel in a tumultuous time. It is a lesson on how fear is the most dangerous aspect of our Trumped-up existence.

My Review:

Queen of Corona starts off with eighteen-year-old Roza on her way to Warsaw her mother’s homeland. We don’t get the complete story at first as to why Roza is on her way to Warsaw or why her mother put her on the plane. We get bits and pieces of Roza’s story as if she is writing a dairy.

Roza is sent to stay with her mother’s sister and her family. Roza has had a rough life growing up but she doesn’t blame her mother. She knows her mother has done the best she could in raising her. Roza comes from an inner city in Queens.

Before leaving Queens Roza joins a group of students that is not satisfied with the school system and how they are being taught so they decide to protest and stand up for the people that can’t stand up for themselves.  On graduation, Roza and some of the other students start their protest when tragedy strikes and the police are called upon to put a stop their protest before it gets out of hand. This is why Roza’s mother puts her on a plane and sends her to Warsaw until everything dies down.

Roza has a hard time dealing with what happened. She is not sure she did the right thing by standing up or by running away. Was she a coward for running off and not staying to take the blame that could be hers?

Roza deals with the tragedy the only way she knows how in the beginning and that is by covering it up and trying to hide it by partying. But she grows up over the course of a few months and gets tired of that lifestyle and knows that she is going to have to come to terms with what she did and own up to it if she is ever going to have a peaceful life.

When I first started reading Queen of Corona I didn’t think I was going to like it at all. I thought I had gotten into the head of a crazy person but I soon realize what was going on in Roza’s head and understood more. There is a lot of brutal honesty in this book that a lot of people need to hear but the thing is not many people will probably hear it ever. Even if they do they will turn a deaf ear to it as if they never heard it.

Queen of Corona is a sad book but I kept reading it because I waiting to find out what happened on that eventful day. It took a while for Roza to finally come to terms with and tell us what happens. A book or an author that gives you pieces of a story at a time and keeps you hooked, in my opinion, is a very good writer. I will have to say that ending just blew me away I never saw it coming.

This is one book I would like to recommend to everybody. If more people were like Roza I think the world might just be a better place in lots of ways. This girl thought she wasn’t smart but she was smart in more ways than one. 

Author Bio:

Esterhazy is a journalist, writer and translator. A native New Yorker, she holds degrees in Comparative Literature from New York University and American Studies from the University of Warsaw. Queen of Corona is her debut novel.



Mary Preston said...

I am curious, especially about the ending.