Sunday, July 3, 2011

Review: Becoming Latina in 10 Easy Steps

Becoming Latina in 10 Easy Steps by Lara Rios

With no marriage prospects and a high-powered career, Marcela Alvarez is already a spinster in the eyes of her traditional family. But when she finds out her deadbeat dad wasn't Latino, her problems only worsen. It's time for her to change some things and prove she still has Chicana roots with a fool-proof ten-step plan, including:

- Dating Mexican men. Her work crush, George Ramirez, almost fills the bill-except that he can't speak Spanish...
- Learning to cook, homestyle. Now, she can't even make mac and cheese without burning the house down. But that's nothing a few private cooking lessons can't fix, especially with a hot maestro...
- Mentoring an at-risk Latina. But with Lupe's switchblade and bad attitude, Marcela starts to wonder: which of them is more at risk...

And when she's done, she'll be able to out-Latina her sisters and cousins, no problem. But who knew being herself could be so much work?

Reviewed by Sandra Lopez

Rating: Review: Marcela just found out she's half white because her mother had an affair with someone else, so now she doesn't know who she is. Then a comment from her family sends her on a mission: to prove that she is as much Latina as any of them. So she begins this 10-step program--really, they're a bunch of cliches for Mexicans (i.e. Spanish cooking, good dancers, etc.) If she was going to add a bunch of stereotypes, she might've also included knowing Spanish and living in a barrio--all totally Mexican, by the way.

I was so envious of Marcela because she had the job I've always wanted--Animator. Lucky dog.

The first thing she does is start dating Mexican men. The typical Mexican would've just crossed the border and would speak no English. Instead, she was stupid enough to date a cholo that nearly raped her on the first "date." I would've taken a wetback over a cholo any day. But then George, a guy that works in the Accounting Dept., captures her eye, even though he was no "Mexican." At first, he was pretty dull, but then he started growing on me as I read on. Girls, you should always go for the nerds. Who knows? They may be hiding a body under all that suit.

It was admirable how Marcela takes in a troubled teen like Lupe and shows her the world of web design. How brave she was to trust her near her computer on the first night. Things get very rough for Marcela when Lupe's bro enters the scene. She gets cuffed and thrown in jail because of him. Honestly, I don't know if Marcela was brave or stupid. Who would put themselves in danger like that? And for what--to prove something to her family?

And George (even though he turned out to be a hunk,) what was up with him? Why are guys such chicks? One romp in the sack and he was ready to move in with Marcela. Whoa, Nelly! Slow down!

Still, I liked how Marcela thought she deserved a nice guy like George, even if he did wanted to marry her from the start. She becomes a real genuine person when she stops and looks around at what life is like on the other side of the tracks (East L.A., Mexico.)

I enjoyed the writer's sense of humor and style. A great book about finding yourself and becoming a better person. Even though the character does evade from the 10 steps (in other words, she doesn't really do them all,) she was a real character with flaws, hopes, and fears. I could definitely relate to her.

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