I hate the label "coming of age" book, because it seems there are so many of them. This book takes a long time to relate all of the back-story and history of various characters, but in the end wraps it all up neatly and tidily. It is about a young girl, Lalita, who is unsure of her place in Mexican society and within her own family and how she comes to accept and embrace her heritage. This is a very well written book and I'm surprised that it hasn't gotten more attention. It is lengthy, but worth the read!
Fantastic read! Helped me to better understand the struggles of immigrant families, especially children trapped between two cultures, specifically the US and Mexico. Made me hungry for really good Mexican food! Looking forward to reading more by Ms. Cisneros.
Took two tries to get into this book, but it was well worth it for its insights into humanity, and more specifically, Mexican culture.
The book centers around a Mexican family that alternates between living in Mexico and traveling to the United States. The Awful Grandmother, the many kids, and grandkids, live a life intertwined, alternately loving and getting irritated with each other. There is much this book has to say about the role of women in society, the power of love, the pain of loss, and the sights and sounds of childhood.
Rather than a dense narrative, this book is organized into a series of vignettes. Many of the stories have footnotes giving more information about the cultural reference. I learned a lot about Mexico and Mexican culture that I did not previously know.
Anyone from any culture would be able to relate to the family experiences. My book club liked this one!
I loved this. The stories of several generations' worth of a large family are recounted (and sometimes possibly made up) by Lala, the insightful, only daughter among a tribe of brothers. She explores the lives of her parents, her grandparents, even her aunt, to find out how everyone came to be as they are at present, and along the way she discovers more about herself.
But this is already explained above. What grabbed me was Cisneros' ability to pull me into a scene with every sight, smell, taste, and beautiful or quirky description that she came up with.
Just opening to a random page...
"The men in their shark suits, gray with a little lightning bolt of blue, or olive with a gleam of gold when they move. A stiff white handkerchief in the pocket. The man's hand leading a woman when they dance, just a little tug, just a little like when you yank a kite to remind it-Don't go too far. And the woman's hand nesting inside the man's big heart-shaped hand, and his other hand on her big heart-shaped hips"..."Swish of stockings against the cream-colored nylon slip with its twin shells of lace on top and an accordion pleat at the hem, and one strap, always one, lazy and loose asking to be put back. My father with a curl of lavender cigarette smoke, his mouth hot next to my mother's ear when he whispers, his mustache tickling, the roughness of his cheek, and my mother throwing her head back and laughing"(60).
Some find her writing in this way to be odd or pointless, but I'm enchanted by it. It might be my interest in Latino and Hispanic cultures that make her descriptions so likable to me - but what's touched upon is often universally felt. Even if you don't speak any Spanish, she writes in such a way that the meaning can often be understood by the context. (There is a lot of Spanish in the book, if that's any surprise.)
Beautiful, fun read. So glad i picked this up. It is about Family and so very well written. The little Grandfather and the Awful Grandmother that the family went to visit and stay with every summer. Half of the year in Mexico the other half in the US. Just a heart felt story and so worth the time. One book that all the reviews are so brimming with praise for. This author is a treasure.
Lala Reyes' grandmother is descended from a family of renowned rebozo --, or shawl-makers. The striped (caramelo) is the most beautiful of all, and the one that makes its way, like the family history it has come to represent, into Lala's possession. The novel opens with the Reyes' annual car trip -- a caravan overflowing with children, laughter, and quarrels -- from Chicago to "the other side": Mexico City. It is there, each year, that Lala hears her family's stories, separating the truth from the "healthy lies" that have ricocheted from one generation to the next. We travel from the Mexico City that was the "Paris of the New World" to the music-filled streets of Chicago at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties -- and finally, to Lala's own difficult adolescence in the not-quite-promised land of San Antonio, Texas.
Caramelo is a vital, wise, romantic tale of homelands, sometimes real, sometimes imagined. Vivid, funny, intimate, historical, it is a brilliant work destined to become a classic: a major new novel from one of our country's most beloved storytellers.
Daughter had to read this book for school and absolutely hated it. It wasn't until she got this book on tape that she managed to get thru it. I'm not too inspired to read it after hearing her complaints.