‘Half Outlaw’ is the Latina motorcycle romance we didn’t know we needed
If you mix a TV show like “Mayans MC” with a coming-of-age novel in the voice of a female protagonist, you’ll get “half outlawa gripping story about a half-Mexican, half-white woman who was raised by an all-white outlaw motorcycle club.
The first novel by author Alex Temblador, “Secrets of Casa Rosadawas a hit in the young adult sphere, earning recognition such as Kirkus Reviews’ Best YA Books of 2018 and the NACCS Tejas Foco Young Adult Award in 2019. Now Temblador is back with “Half Outlaw,” an adult fiction novel that explores a mixed the harrowing journey of a woman on a motorcycle across the United States
“Half Outlaw” follows the story of Raqi who was sent to California from Texas after her parents died when she was 4 years old. Dodge, his mother’s brother who has a drug addiction problem, raises Raqi in his all-white outlaw motorcycle club called the Lawless. Resuming his physical appearance as a Mexican father, Raqi experiences hostility, violence, racism and sexism growing up within the club. When she can, she leaves behind Dodge and the Lawless and becomes a successful lawyer in Los Angeles.
After Dodge’s death, Raqi is convinced by the Lawless to take a motorcycle ride across the country in honor of her uncle. If she does, she’ll receive the address of a Mexican grandfather she didn’t know existed. Along the way, she meets a host of people who help her realize that if she wants a better future, she must face her past.
“Half Outlaw” is a magical realism novel that jumps between Raqi’s childhood and 1990, the current setting of the book. This powerful and heartfelt story examines the experiences of mixed Latinos, their exploration of identity, and a sense of family.
Half Outlaw by Alex Temblador
Excerpt from chapter 2
The shrill sound of the phone ringing woke me up from my sleep.
“Hello?” Trevor had picked up the phone.
I put the pillow over my head, pissed at being woken up in the middle of the night. I hated when something interrupted my sleep, including sex.
“Raqi, this is for you.”
I moan into the mattress. Not another legal emergency. I moved the pillow under my head, grabbing my long brown hair for a second before jerking it out, then grabbing the phone from him. Trevor fell back on his pillow and rubbed his eyes, pulling the coiled cord away from his face but to no avail.
“What?” I say sharply into the receiver.
“It’s me,” said a deep, scratchy voice.
I now wanted a legal emergency, any other emergency beyond the one Billy was about to impose on me.
“Billy, I already told you that I don’t do anything for you anymore. Whoever he is, he can rot in prison, no matter what I want…”
“You’ll fucking do anything…” Billy barked.
“Raqi, shut up. I’m calling about something else.
Billy only called me to get me to bail out one of his Lawless. I could not any more. People were starting to call me this lawyer with these criminals. It didn’t take me so many years of hard work to be associated with the drug-dealing motorcycle club I had tried so hard to escape. The only thing I kept from my time with them was my bad face, but that fit perfectly with the cutthroat world of LA law. That and my tattoo. . . But I planned to get rid of it soon.
There was only one other reason Billy could call.
“I won’t bullshit for Dodge either,” I said.
“You won’t have to.”
“He is dead.”
I expected this call, in fact, years ago. Heroin, meth, coke, you name it, he’s done it all.
“Drugs?” I asked.
Surprising. . . although the drugs can also cause heart attacks.
“So you’re calling me because . . .?”
“We go out on Fridays. Meet me and the club at Dodge that morning.
“You’re a stupid son of a bitch if you think…”
“Shit, Raqi! Billy shouted. I removed the phone, my ear ringing with the volume of his voice. A crash sounded in the background. He had probably kicked a chair.
“Be there at nine in the morning, or damn it, I’ll drive to this gated community of wealthy slickers, kick your little black boy’s ass, and drag you on this merry-go-round. You hear me?”
I clutched the plastic phone, eager to slam it against the bed frame. “Racist asshole,” I muttered.
Trevor sat up in bed and mouthed, “What’s going on?” I was sure he had heard Billy. My stomach clenched in embarrassment.
I shook my head harshly. He tried to touch my arm, but I jumped. Trevor knew not to try again, so he crossed his muscular arms and lay down on the bed. If he interrogated me afterwards, he would lose. He wasn’t half as ruthless as me as a lawyer.
“You can’t force me to come,” I told Billy through gritted teeth.
“No, but I’ll give you anything you want if you do.”
What did he have? My mind raced and I stopped breathing. Billy waited, extending the silence like a long, stringy piece of cheese stretching between a bite of pizza and its slice.
Finally he said, “Go take this tour and I’ll give you an address.”
What was Billy talking about? “To whom address?”
Another punch. “Who-?”
My hand gripped the receiver so tightly that I could hear the tension of the plastic trying to hold it together. My grandfather. My Mexican grandfather. I had no idea he was alive. I thought Dodge was the only family I had left after my parents died in a car accident. I always believed that if there was someone else, somebody, I would have been sent to them and not Dodge. How did Billy get this information?
“Good?” Billy asked.
As I pondered his offer, the phone’s coiled cord wrapped around my neck and slowly tightened, leaving behind deep impressions of rubbery waves. The world had played a horrible trick by giving a little dark-haired girl to a racist white man with a drug addiction problem. Now Billy was telling me there was someone else, someone on my Mexican side, on my dad’s side, someone who might look like me, might even be a decent human being. It became more and more difficult to breathe as the cord cut off my respiratory supply. I couldn’t say no to this offer or I would choke.
“Good,” I choked out, loosening my grip on the phone as the cord loosened its grip on me. “If I go there, you give me the address and I’m going out for good. No more legal assistance for you or the lawless, no more calls. No contact, ever.
Billy remained silent. I held my breath.
“Okay,” he said.
I took a deep breath, not really believing it had worked.
“Friday then, and don’t forget to cut your hair,” he added.
“I don’t cut my hair. It’s a ridiculous tradition.
“He’s your uncle and you will, damn it,” Billy replied.
My body had begun to relax into the mattress, wanting to go back to sleep, yet my mind was shaken by the news. “Never mind,” I said, hoping that would be enough to get him to hang up.
Billy sighed deeply and the smell of the three glasses of whiskey he had consumed wafted through the phone. Dodge’s passing weighed hard on his dark soul.
“They’ll be glad to see you,” Billy said.
“I bet they’ll throw a ball at me.”
“Fuck you,” he said, then hung up.
I gave the phone to Trevor, and he placed it on the receiver.
“The lawless? ” He asked.
“No, it was fucking fucking Christ.” I turned away and rolled onto my side, glancing at the tattoo on my upper arm. The one I tried so hard to hide. The one where tiny droplets of blood were now rising from the faded black gothic lettering, fresh ink to darken it after years of neglect. He wanted to look his best when he got home.
Trevor wrapped his arms around me, cupping my left breast. He pulled me closer to nibble my ear. I pulled away and closed my eyes. Neither of us moved for a few seconds, but then I felt his arms squeeze me a little tighter. He kissed my neck and whispered, “I love you. Even though I was annoyed and frustrated by Billy’s call, Trevor’s kisses made me feel good.
What the hell? I was already wide awake.
You can pre-order your hardcover, e-book, or audio copy of Half Outlaw at Library, Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Audible, through your local independent bookstore and library. Also feel free to listen Spotify playlist inspired by Half Outlaw. Follow Alex Temblador on AlexTemblador.com Or on instagram Where Twitter for more book news and events.
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