Book Review of Caramelo

Author: Sandra Cisneros
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Paperback
reviewed on

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.)