This is one angry book.
Then again, Sonia has much to be angry about. The daughter of illegal immigrants from Mexico, all she wants to do is make good her father’s efforts to get her the opportunities that are available in America — and who works three jobs to pay for them.
However, the rest of the family doesn’t see it that way. They see Sonia as the oldest daughter, someone who is supposed to cook, clean, supervise, care for and help around the house. As Sonia would say, es mi cultura and es familia. Her mother, pregnant with twins, spends the day watching telenovelas, relying on Sonia for help at every possible (and usually inconvenient) moment. Her uncle is a drunk and a gambler (and a lech), her older brother a school dropout who smokes pot.
She’s up against a lot.
This is not the story of her slow descent into Hispanic stereotypes. In fact, it’s a intelligent, articulate treatise on the state (plight?) of immigrants in America — not only the conflict between cultures, but expectations as well. It’s also Sonia’s personal war with her family and her culture and her dreams for being and doing better.
It’s not an easy read: the anger Sonia has for everything is palpable. It’s uncomfortable to read about the way Sonia’s treated; it’s difficult to make it through the negativity and stereotypes. But stick with it and you’ll be rewarded: not only does the book get better, but Sonia learns to appreciate the good in her Mexican heritage, and things do work out in the end for her (and her family).
It helps to have a passing knowledge of Spanish: the book is littered with Spanish words and phrases, some of which are just left to the reader to catch the gist of, which sometimes disrupt the narrative flow. In addition, it’s an unflinching book: nothing is sugar-coated or glossed over. However, it’s because of that honesty, that rawness, that this book, ultimately, is worth reading.
Rated: High, for language — mostly mild swearing, though there are two F-words; lots and lots of drinking; instances of pot smoking; and attempted rape. Whew.