Sunday, May 15, 2011

Review: Beyond the Gardens

Today we feature a book by one of our favorite Latina authors (the one who designed this blog, BTW,) Sandra Lopez! Her newest YA novel has been out for almost two years now and has received some great reviews. We are proud to present our review for Beyond the Gardens.

At the age of 18, Esperanza Ignacio begins her college years at an upscale Los Angeles art school, where she studies to fulfill her long-term dream in Animation. But she soon learns the truth to the old folktale: “you can take the girl out of the barrio, but you can’t take the barrio out of the girl.” Even though she’s getting financial aid, Esperanza works a part-time job during her break from classes just to make ends meet. Her roommate, Anna, is what she calls a “chicana from Beverly Hills” because of the rich daddy and the new car she got for her quinceaƱera.

Things get a little confusing for Esperanza when an old friend comes looking for her, hoping to start a meaningful relationship. But is Carlos the right guy for her? She never even considered him to be anything more than a friend since high school. Then comes Jake, a gorgeous mechanic, who shares her passion for books and loves her for who she is. What’s a girl to do?

Strength and determination help pave the way for the future. And, as she approaches her graduation, she is faced with a difficult decision: should she leave Los Angeles and leave behind her family, her home, and everything she’s known? Ever since she was born in the California barrio of Hawaiian Gardens, she’s always had to look over the fence, wondering what she’s been missing. Now she’s taking a flying leap over to see what’s beyond the little barrio. What’s beyond her family, her friends, and her past? What’s beyond the little nothing town, where dreams don’t exist? What’s beyond The Gardens? Is it life, love, a future? The story of Esperanza is finally concluded in this wildly entertaining and heart-warming sequel.

Reviewed by: Bela M.

Review: After reading Esperanza, you can bet how much I was looking forward to reading this sequel. Esperanza is now in college! She is living her life the way she’s always wanted—on campus away from her mother and barrio neighborhood. Suddenly, her life is upended when friends from her past re-enter: Carlos, who is now interested in her romantically, and his sister, Carla, who had urged Esperanza to marry her brother in high school. Esperanza also contends with her roommate, a rich Chicana; and with Jake, a hunky mechanic who seems to be her soulmate. Life becomes complicated for Esperanza as she constantly wonders what is "beyond the gardens" of her barrio, and what life can possibly hold for her.

This was a very quick and enjoyable read.

Lopez’s story comes across as a somewhat autobiographical fiction, and her character, Esperanza, is someone I really liked. She’s neurotic, an over-achiever, and totally entertaining. She’s a young Latina from the barrio, making a life for herself by breaking out of all expectations and stereotypes. I love this about her, and I think most of us can see ourselves in her.

This is a love story and an inspiration to young ladies who are less apt to try to be beauty queens and more likely to try and use their brains to better themselves. Funny and romantic. Be sure to jot down the name Sandra Lopez as you will be hearing more from her in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment