Ander & Santi Were Here: A Novel (Hardcover)
Ander is a nonbinary artist taking a gap year between high school and art school to paint murals around their hometown of San Antonio through a fellowship at a non-profit. When their parents “fire” them from the family's taqueria so they can focus on their art, Ander ends up falling for their replacement, Santi. What Ander doesn't know at first is that Santi's undocumented, and the world seems hell-bent on keeping them apart. Despite the ever-present worry of ICE discovery, Ander and Santi’s relationship flourishes, their love loudly queer and loudly joyful. Ander's voice is strong and smart, flowing easily between descriptions of their work and process, being a teenager in love in the summer, grappling with a loveable but pushy family, and processing the horrors of the immigration-deportation cycle so close to home. Every page is filled with pain, love, and joy depicted exquisitely, represented externally by a stunning cover, a depiction of one of Ander's murals. Ander & Santi Were Here is an absolutely gorgeous, heart-wrenching, and warmly funny book.
- Tildy Lutts, Belmont Books (Belmont, MA)— From NECBA Windows & Mirrors 2023 Short List
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets The Sun is Also a Star in this YA contemporary love story from Jonny Garza Villa, Ander & Santi Were Here, about a nonbinary Mexican American teen falling for the shy new waiter at their family’s taqueria.
Finding home. Falling in love. Fighting to belong.
The Santos Vista neighborhood of San Antonio, Texas, is all Ander Martínez has ever known. The smell of pan dulce. The mixture of Spanish and English filling the streets. And, especially their job at their family's taquería. It's the place that has inspired Ander as a muralist, and, as they get ready to leave for art school, it's all of these things that give them hesitancy. That give them the thought, are they ready to leave it all behind?
To keep Ander from becoming complacent during their gap year, their family "fires" them so they can transition from restaurant life to focusing on their murals and prepare for college. That is, until they meet Santiago López Alvarado, the hot new waiter. Falling for each other becomes as natural as breathing. Through Santi's eyes, Ander starts to understand who they are and want to be as an artist, and Ander becomes Santi's first steps toward making Santos Vista and the United States feel like home.
Until ICE agents come for Santi, and Ander realizes how fragile that sense of home is. How love can only hold on so long when the whole world is against them. And when, eventually, the world starts to win.
"An intimate meditation on romance, stepping into adulthood, home, protecting those you hold dear and more." - The New York Times, "Newly Published"
"In Santi, Garza Villa has done a superb job of verisimilitude, taking their readers into the precarious life and circumstances of an undocumented teen. The love between the two teens is beautifully realized without a false note, proving that Garza Villa is as much an artist as Ander." - Booklist, Starred Review
"[A] blistering tale of enduring love and communal care." - Publishers Weekly
"Explores love and growing up viewed through artistic lenses.... A relevant coming-of-age journey." - Kirkus
"This book is a living, breathing love letter, and I felt every beat of it. Jonny Garza Villa’s fiercely vulnerable writing leaves a permanent mark." – Becky Albertalli, award-winning author of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
“Beautifully heartbreaking. This book will fill you with warmth while breaking you to pieces, and the tears you shed will be completely worth it.” - Dustin Thao, New York Times bestselling author of You've Reached Sam
"With a swoony romance full of sex positivity, humor, and PAIN, Jonny Garza Villa will destroy your heart and piece it back together and you will thank them for it." – Sonora Reyes, author of The Lesbiana's Guide To Catholic School
“A beautiful ode to holding on—to our precious family histories, to home wherever we choose to make it, and most importantly, to love.” – Laekan Zea Kemp, author of Pura Belpré Honor book Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet
"Jonny has done it again. Ander & Santi Were Here is at times hilariously debauched and painfully poignant, both a warm testament to community and love as well as a fiery call to action. I'll read anything they write, and you should too." -Aaron H. Aceves, author of This Is Why They Hate Us
"Ander & Santi Were Here is a uniquely soft heartbeat—devastating in its truth and profound in its beauty. JGV offers their readers another brilliant story, one that arrives ready to expose the truth of living and loving undocumented in America. At its core, ANDER AND SANTI is both a love story and a loud message made up of undeniably romantic moments, great banter, clutch-your-pillow flirting, and raw exposure to obstacles the Latine community meets head-on every day. Ander, Santi and Jonny Garza Villa have given readers a kind of poetry within this story that is meant to move you." – Cam Montgomery, author of By Any Means Necessary
"A romance that knows no borders, Ander & Santi Were Here is a rich, relatable, Latine story not soon to be forgotten." – e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, ALA winning author of the Fat Angie series
"Perhaps one of the most daring romances of the year, Ander & Santi Were Here incorporates subtle elements of racism, homophobia, and politics into a tender love story between a nonbinary Mexican American teenager and the new waiter at their family’s restaurant. Both poignant and vulnerable, this romance asks readers what does home really mean? Is it a place, person, or both?" - Cosmopolitan, Your TBR List Isn't Complete Without These 9 New Queer Books Debuting in 2023