Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review: DAMAS, DRAMAS, AND ANA RUIZ by Belinda Acosta

Summary: All Ana Ruiz wanted was to have a traditional quinceañera for her daughter, Carmen. She wanted a nice way to mark this milestone year in her daughter's life. But Carmen was not interested in celebrating. Hurt and bitter over her father Esteban's departure, she blamed Ana for destroying their happy family, as did everyone else. A good man is hard to find, especially at your age Ana was told. Why not forgive his one indiscretion? Despite everything, Ana didn't want to tarnish Carmen's childlike devotion to her beloved father. But Ana knows that growing up sometimes means facing hard truths. In the end, Ana discovers that if she's going to teach Carmen anything about what it means to be a woman, it will take more than simply a fancy party to do it...

Reviewed by: Sandra L.
Rating: 5 stars

Review: The first thing that grabbed my attention was the writing style. It brings you back to the days of Mexican gatherings filled with música, cerveza, y carne asada with a telenovela blaring in the background. I especially liked how the author sprinkled in Spanish throughout the story like chile over brown rice—it definitely gave it that extra kick. It was almost like the book was written in both English and Spanish; I’d say it was about 85% English and 15% Spanish. In fact, it was almost as if my abuela had told this story with her broken English and (loud) Spanish expression.

The title definitely served the story well. This was the “damas and dramas” of Ana Ruiz with the pain she suffers from a broken marriage and the devastation she endures when her daughter looks at her with hate. And all Ana wants to do it fix it, and, for some reason, she feels a quinceañera will do it. Was she crazy? Was she trying to be mean by pushing the idea? No, she was just desperate—desperate to reconnect with her daughter, Carmen, and make it like it was before. Very heartfelt—but, again, crazy!

Carmen was a brat. It was unfair how she was so angry at her mom without getting all the facts straight. And why was everyone (her brother, her cousin, her tía, etc.) being so nice to her when she would just roll her eyes or snap at them with a smart-ass comment? That would frustrate anybody.

I liked how Ana got all giddy and nervous around Montalvo (especially when he took his shirt off) because it showed that she was still a woman, a young girl in “mom” costume. It was great that she could see a partner in him—not as a lover, per se, even though they were painted as a compatible couple throughout the story, but as a friend who’s gone through the same thing she is. It’s true what they say: misery likes company.

The plot was so well done that you can feel all the anger and pain of each character (they all have their personal demons and hidden skeletons.) It is a roller coaster ride of surprises with such a fervent impact that make the reader laugh, scream, and even throw up a little. A gripping read.

One minor thing I found a bit odd at first was how the author would deviate from one character’s setting, thoughts, and dialogue, and then transition to another character’s thoughts and feelings all within the same paragraph. Additionally, the story seemed to have been told in a fortune-teller kind of way; not only do we hear the story as it happened—as it was witnessed—but we also learn of what becomes of everyone years in the future. This definitely pushed the traditional fly-on-the-wall narration, but, somehow, it worked, and a masterpiece was born through unorthodox methods.

Friday, October 4, 2013

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