140 Caramelo

carameloby Sandra Cisneros, 2002

I know I’ve said it before, that sweeping, multi-generational narratives is an odd literary niche to love, but it’s one I can’t get enough of. From Roots to The House of the Spirits to Middlesex and now Caramelo, I’m a huge fan of novels that delve into the past to reveal both cultural and personal identities. Told by Celaya “Lala” Reyes, the youngest of the Reyes clan, Caramelo explores the meanings of family, motherhood, fatherhood, pride, and love, as well as what it means to be a Mexican, an American, and something in between. It is a beautifully written story that I loved reading.

Continue reading


130 The Nix

nixby Nathan Hill, 2016

I am not sure what I expected of The Nix, but wow, was this more than I ever thought it could be. This is a prime example of exactly the sort of multi-generational, multi-viewpoint story I love. What starts as the story of mediocre Samuel Andresen-Anderson and his unfulfilling life as a would-be-author-cum-teacher becomes the sweeping tale of Samuel’s mother, her college compatriots, his grandfather, the neighbors Samuel grew up with, and the friends he makes in an online role-playing game. It’s been awhile since I’ve felt utterly absorbed by a story, eager to get back to it at every possible chance, but that is exactly how I felt about The Nix.

Continue reading

127 The Wangs vs. the World

wangsby Jade Chang, 2016

It’s the start of the economic recession and Charles Wang – a Chinese immigrant who made his fortune in the cosmetics industry – is bankrupt. Having put all his collateral, including his house, toward a loan for a failed attempt at beauty stores that cater to non-white customers, Charles is determined to save face by reclaiming the land stolen from his family by the communist Chinese government. He picks up his daughter from boarding school, his son from college, and, along with his second wife, they head toward the eldest Wang daughter’s New York farmhouse in search of something like redemption.

Continue reading

39 Roots

roots seriesFinally,
finally, I finished watching Roots! I had never seen the six-part 1977 miniseries, so after finishing the book earlier this year it was high on my must-watch list. It was, shall I say, difficult to get through, not because of the harrowing story or the reminder of our nation’s violent history, but because it is so cheesy. I hate to say that about one of the most important pieces of television produced, and I respect everything it did to bring light to the harsh reality of slavery, but wow, it does not hold up for a 21st century audience.

Continue reading

3 La casa de los espíritus

casaTengo una afinidad especial por los cuentos de múltiples generaciones y La casa de los espíritus (Isabel Allende, 1982) me pega directamente en el corazón. Este es el cuento de la familia Trueba – el padre Esteban, la madre Clara, su hija Blanca, y su nieta Alba, juntos con los hermanos gemelos Jaime y Nicolás, y los amantes de todas las mujeres. Empieza cuando Clara Del Valle es una niña, con facultades místicas, y va através cuatro generaciones de esta familia orgullosa. Cuenta de los tiempos turbulentos en la ciudad y en el campo de Chile, con todos los cambios políticos y económicos que amenazan fracturar esta família. Quizás se puede decir que este es un cuento romántico en el fondo, y quizás no estaría equivocado. Pero es mucho más que eso.

Continue reading