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Caramelo Paperback – September 9, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Awful Grandmother was once a girl called Soledad, whose father was a dyer of rebozos, the traditional Mexican shawl, and whose mother was renowned for her intricate knotting of the fringes. All that remains of their art in the family is a rebozo with unfinished fringes, a caramelo, a shawl dyed in stripes the colors of caramel, licorice, and vanilla which appears around the shoulders of generations of women.
The plot winds and circles, often ending up in surprising places. "Caramelo" is a long book, but it could have been longer--many of the minor characters are unfinished and there's a sense that Cisneros had such a wealth of stories to tell that she simply could not stuff them all between these covers. The writing is so bright and fine I would have been happy to spend another hundred pages with the Reyes family.
My sole quibble with "Caramelo" is the extensive use of Spanish words and phrases. If readers do not speak Mexican Spanish, will they miss the full flavor of the novel? Would we be as willing to accept a book peppered with this much Hungarian or French? I would hate to think that some readers would find this a turn-off and feel excluded from Sandra Cisneros' rich and delightful story.
It's impossible not to love an author who names her characters "the Awful Grandmother," "Aunty Light-Skin" and "Uncle Old." Cisneros's warm, wry humor has been on display since THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET, and in her latest blended book (equal parts American and Mexican influence), she ensnares us again. This is Lala's story, first and foremost, but it's also the story of so many other things --- of growing up in two cultures, of growing up in general, of family life and daily upheaval, of class and racial strife. The Reyes family travels south to Mexico City each summer to spend time with Inocencio's parents, his heavy-handed mother and henpecked father. Thirteen running, screaming kids caught between the Chicago culture of their daily lives and the Mexican roots of their parents. Three daughters-in-law left to stew in their own juices when mama's around. One hundred reasons why, we soon learn, everything is not OK.
We watch things unfold through Lala's eyes, even the things she was not there to witness. She is an always-precocious narrator. Of Aunty Light-Skin's secretarial job, for example, we're told that she wears beautiful cocktail dresses and high heels, and is picked up each day by her big-shot boss. Lala overhears her mother and aunts' ridicule, but does not spell out the details.Read more ›
All the descriptive prose and Spanish phraseology were a distraction. I realize the author was painting a (very big) picture of sights, sounds and smells etc. but it often seemed to me that the thread of the story was buried in all that description. Anyone who knows a fair amount of Spanish and knows idioms and colloquial sayings would not find that element to be a problem. True, some meanings could be understood from the contxt or the explanation, but even with Spanish dictionary in hand it was too much for me. I finally just skipped it, but felt this caused me to lose a lot of appreciation for the story.
The writing didn't flow for me and I kept wishing the story could have been told in a more straightforward way.
I would like to suggest translations in () to assist non-Hispanic readers. The Spanish languge is beautiful and knowing more of what I was reading would have added a lot.
Let me also say that I own and have read the authors other books and love them greatly. I also found them to be much edgier and the writing does flow, or maybe soar would be a more apt description!!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Had to read this for my Ethnic Lit. class. I don't usually read fictional biographies so the only time I do it's for a class. However, I very much enjoy this book. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Phan
really loved the novel. I recommended it to my sister and an aunt.Published 3 months ago by Reynasl
Loved it all the way through... mother nonchalantly observed details, voices, etc., were great but I found the ending to be very pat.Published 9 months ago by ottiebello
I can relate to this story a lot. Although I was born in Los Angeles, it resonates with me.Published 10 months ago by Mary K. Valdez
Loved this book. As a reader of Mexican decent, and a Spanish speaker, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not knowing Spanish - you will miss some of the humor.Published 10 months ago by Dawn Bradley