Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Book review: "It's Not About the Accent" by Caridad Ferrer

Loved it. Two thumbs up!

It's the story of a small town WASP-y Ohio girl who goes off to college for the summer term before her Freshman year and decides to reinvent herself as being more Cuban than she really is - her only link to Cuba is through her great-grandmother who taught her to cook and whom she loved very much. She immediately starts dating a frat boy senior and goes to too many parties and almost goes further with him than she wants. When the boyfriend's slimy frat brother rapes her, instead of him being there to help, he's out boinking his other girlfriend. The assault is interrupted by the nice guy who lives down the hall who had helped her with her math homework - and who really is Cuban-American.

She somehow finishes the term and goes home with the intention of staying there and attending the community college, until her brother taunts her for being a chicken. So she goes back to school - this time as herself - where her new roommate turns out to not be a "psycho cheerleader named Bambi" and where she can manage to avoid the ex-boyfriend and spend more time with her rescuer-friend. She also decides to research her genealogy and try to find her Cuban relatives and if any others have come to the US, with some interesting results.

The writing was quite good and the characters well-developed and 'real' - though some of the frat boys were a bit flat. I did like that even minor characters seen in passing had enough to them to make them human and not cliche. I thought that Caro's recovery from the rape could have been explored more thoroughly, but can understand that we wanted to see her get on with her life and how she has changed instead of focusing on the hardest parts.

It didn't pull me in and fill up my head with absolute fabuloso-ness like Ms. Ferrer's first book, Adios to My Old Life, but was definitely very good. Both were YA novels, aimed at teens, I'd say late high school. This one felt even more grown-up than the last, almost past the point of YA, due to the sexual elements.

It took two Barnes & Noble employees and I almost half an hour to find it yesterday - turns out it was shelved with the teen series books (though it's not part of a series) instead of with the rest of the teen stuff, as it is published by MTV and that's where B&N generally puts the MTV books. At least it wasn't in the 7-14 section as the author reported she had found it - definitely inappropriate for grade schoolers! Considering I walked into B&N with a loose approximation of the title and the author's real first name (not Caridad) in my head and walked out with the book I wanted, I'm giving the employees the benefit of the doubt.

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