Did Your Walls Keep Them Out, or Lock You In?

Gabriela Garcia‘s story is short, but her main character is richly drawn — multidimensional, flawed, and real. “Frosted Glass,” in The Iowa Review, tells the story of Ms. Mendez, seamlessly layering together mother-daughter strife, the immigrant experience, neighborhood one-upswoman-ship, racism, and the folly of trying to solve problems by building walls. It manages to be both timely and timeless, deeply personal and culturally trenchant.

Mrs. Mendez fumed. She watched the lights go on at the neighbor’s house. The Mendezes had installed the trendiest windows they could find—frosted glass, cut into identical squares. They could see out, but anyone looking in would see just blobs and shapes. They’d see silhouettes moving in and out of shadows like creatures stretching and curling into their caves. This is why Mrs. Mendez had busted her back for twenty-five years. This is why she had arrived with her one suitcase and cleaned homes for so many years while taking classes at the community college where all her teachers assumed by her accent she understood nothing. Why she’d studied accounting with an English-to-Spanish dictionary at her side and spent years working her way up a ladder full of splinters and snapped legs at every turn. So she could have goddamn frosted glass spy windows she could see out of but nobody could see into.

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