So many kids, I don't know what to do.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Book Review - Caramello by Sandra Cisneros

A few weeks ago I stopped by our wonderful school library and checked out Caramello by Sandra Cisneros (Copyright 2002). She is the author also of The House on Mango Street which is required reading in many high schools.

This is the story of three generations of a Mexican American family. It centers around the daughter/grand daughter. Lala. She is the favorite among her six brothers. The book is separated into three sections. The first tells about a summer visit to her grandmother's house in Mexico. The second chronicles her grandmother's childhood and early marriage. Then finally the focus is on the changes occuring in the family after her grandfather dies and The Grandmother comes to the U.S. to live with them.

The first part of the book I loved. I flew through it, enjoying every minute. I was totally immersed as I usually am while reading. Poor Shaye Baby was quite confused as to why I called her, "Pobrecita" all weekend.
The rest of the book was difficult to read and it wasn't because it wasn't a good book. Part of the reason it was difficult was because I kept getting interupted. Imagine that, I have five kids. The other reason it was difficult was because it was just a challenging book to read. There was a lot of history explained in end notes. I love history, obviously I teach it. These historial notations though were from a different viewpoint than I am accustomed to and they took some pondering. There was symbolism galore. Most of which I am sure I wouldn't do justice if I tried to explain. One item, The Grandmother's rebozo, is mentioned often as an item that is not only passed down, but would at one point be an impossible item to duplicate in the modern world.
As Lala tries to bridge the gap between being Mexican, and being American, the role of the different lies told in the family's history is stressed. The untruths go back as far as Lala's great grandmother and her background. The other theme woven throughout the story is the idea of a favorite child and how that affects relationships. I enjoy reading about different cultures and different time periods. So I did enjoy that even though the author probably intended the book to have a deeper meaning.
The only thing I did not like about the book was the narration in the second section. The daughter interupts the flow of the story with her and her grandmother's comments. It un-immersed me. It almost felt like an intertuption.
Overall it was a good, thought provoking book. I wish I would have been able to read it in a less disjointed , more concentrated way.

Have you ever read this book? What did you think? Have you read a book lately you would like to discuss? Is there a book you would like to suggest?

How about you? Do you alternate between challenging literature and just fun reads. What is a challening, but good book you have read lately.

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