How Winter Began

About the book

University of Nebraska Press, 2015

Iréne gives the wealthy businessmen what they want, diving headfirst into the filthy river, thinking only of providing for her baby daughter. A young boy tries to befriend the shy younger sister of the town’s cruelest bully, only to discover the family betrayal behind her quiet countenance. Josefa, a young bride, is executed for murdering the man who raped her.

Chosen as one of Publishers Weekly’s Big Indie Books of Fall 2015How Winter Began (University of Nebraska, 2015) traces these and other characters as they seek compassion from each other and themselves. Thematically linked by the lives of women, especially Latinas, and their experiences of poverty and violence, How Winter Began explores how—or whether—we can trust one another again after the rupture of betrayal.


“Joy Castro’s writing is like watching an Acapulco cliff diver. It takes my breath away every time.”—Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

“I love the stories in How Winter Began: the taut narratives, the deft portrayal of characters who, though vulnerable, are stunning in their fierce determination. Reading, I had very physical reactions—sharp intakes of breath, stinging eyes, tightening scalp, adrenaline. It was like being gut-punched again and again, but in a very good way.”—Lorraine López, author of Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories

“To read Joy Castro’s stories is to witness the world as beautiful and horrible, light and dark, and to see people who are both lovely and ugly. Joy Castro will hold your heart.” —Natalie Sypolt, Los Angeles Review

“With these stories, Castro lulls the reader with beautiful, exquisitely crafted sentences. But before we realize it, she reveals the dark contours of her characters’ lives—lives that are often desperate and broken, but not without hope for something better.” —Daniel A. Olivas, El Paso Times

“The startling range of these 28 stories ( … poignant examples of flash fiction) bring depth and dimension to the complex lives of women … their purpose is to mine the rich interior of women whose roles in society are usually overlooked, whose voices are seldom heard.” —Rigoberto González,