top of page

YA Novel ‘What’s Coming to Me’ is a Whole Mood by Francesca Padilla

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

By Amaris Castillo

Debut author Francesca Padilla begins What’s Coming to Me uncomfortably. As the newest employee of Duke’s Ice Creamery, 17-year-old Minerva Gutiérrez is tasked with telling her horribly sexist boss Anthony that the register is short for the third time in a week. We’ll find out later just how appalling he is, but for now the teen is procrastinating outside the ice cream shop located in the seaside town of Nautilus.


“The feel and weight of the cash inside is so specific. It’s the most money I've ever seen in my life,” Minerva narrates. “Same as the last time I had to deliver the cash to Anthony, I picture running off with the envelope, leaving Nautilus altogether, and starting over somewhere beautiful and busy. The daydream always evaporates the second I hand it over. Stays just that, a daydream.”


Moments later, a van comes hurtling around the corner. Two figures wearing black-and-white cat masks burst into the store, carrying knives. They’re here to rob Duke’s.


The adrenaline-pumping scene is just the beginning of what is a moody and suspenseful YA novel about a teen who is deeply hurting. Since her chronically ill mother’s last hospitalization, Minerva has been kicked out of school and is left stranded in the town she would very much like to escape. And even though Minerva is paid in cash at her job, she’s broke. The only semblance of family support is her mother’s cousin, Nicole – but even that relationship feels somewhat detached. When the armed robbery Minerva is a victim of (alongside her coworkers) stirs up rumors about hidden money on the property, she and her neighbor CeCe set up a plan to find it.


Padilla aptly captures readers’ attention through the characterization of her main character Minerva. The Long Island teen is resilient, flawed, and on the road to self-sabotage. She’s in a hole that she can’t seem to climb out of, and her environment is of no help. It's impossible not to be kept on edge with Minerva’s internal journey. We don’t yet understand the root of why she is the way she is. At times, I found myself wanting to shake Minerva out of some of her decisions – but then I remember she's still a child who has been dealt with some adult situations. Add the planning of a heist, and you have a compelling page-turner.


Padilla delivers a raw and chaotic portrait of adolescence through Minerva’s neighbor CeCe – who deals drugs and is also struggling at home – her ex-best friend Mary, and even her coworkers at Duke’s.


“My adolescence was really messy, and the adolescence of people I grew up with was very messy, and that’s just what I know,” the author shared with Dominican Writers Association founder Angela Abreu at her Aug. 9 book launch event in Word Up Community Bookshop. “That’s what’s real to me.”


Of note is the town of Nautilus, which is itself another character. We are so used to our community being reflected in bustling cities. It was refreshing to read a story about a Dominican girl in the suburbs.


If What’s Coming to Me was a color, I’d say it is mostly gray with hints of sunny yellow at the end. Without giving away any spoilers, I encourage anyone interested in reading this novel to take a moment with the author’s note beforehand. It sets the tone and deepens the reading experience. Padilla's debut offering is very much about grief and the way it manifests in Minerva, the decisions she makes, and also how she navigates her relationships with friends. It’s about anticipatory grief. There’s indeed a cloud that hangs over much of the novel as you root for Minerva to overcome, and grow, and find herself out on the other side. A little romance brings much-needed levity to the novel, and Padilla adds twists and a nail-biter scene at the end that kept me hooked until the end.


At her recent event at Word Up Books, Padilla said she wrote What’s Coming to Me for people who feel left out, for alternative Black and brown teens, for people who are grieving or for those who anticipate grief.


“There's a lot of grief in the world, and I think that’s one of the things that I wanted to show… here’s this angry girl, and there are reasons why she’s angry,” she said. “And let’s look into that, instead of just saying that she’s an angry kid.”


What’s Coming to Me is out now from Soho Teen.


_________________________________


About the Author: Francesca Padilla is a queer Dominican-American fiction writer born and raised in New York City and currently based out of Rochester, NY. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing from the State University of New York at Purchase College and is a past recipient of a Walter Dean Myers Grant from We Need Diverse Books. Her debut young adult novel, What’s Coming to Me, is forthcoming from Soho Teen on August 2, 2022. By day, she also works in health and human services across New York State. For more information and updates, visit www.frannypadilla.com.

_________________________________


Amaris Castillo is a journalist, writer, and the creator of Bodega Stories, a series featuring real stories from the corner store. Her journalism has appeared in The New York Times, the Lowell Sun, the Bradenton Herald, Remezcla, Latina Magazine, Parents Latina Magazine, and elsewhere. Her creative writing has appeared in La Galería Magazine, Spanglish Voces, PALABRITAS, Dominican Moms be Like..., and is forthcoming in Quislaona: A Dominican Fantasy Anthology. Her short story "El Don" was shortlisted for the 2022 Elizabeth Nunez Caribbean-American Writers’ Prize by the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival.


Amaris lives in Florida with her family. You can follow her work at amariscastillo.com and read her stories from the colmado at bodegastories.com.


132 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page