Caramelo

by

Author: Sandra Cisneros

Title: Caramelo

Genre: Best-Selling Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 449

Geographical Setting: Chicago & Mexico City

Time Period: Modern

Series: N/A

Plot Summary:  Caramelo is a character-driven and descriptive novel about a young girl struggling to find herself amidst her huge family.  Celaya (“Lala”) Reyes, the youngest and only girl among seven children, is a young Mexican American living in Chicago.  Each year, her entire family drives from Chicago to Mexico City to visit her ‘Awful Grandmother.’  This year, Celaya is determined to figure out what makes her grandmother so awful.   She sets out to tell the tales of her ancestors, and understand exactly where she came from.

Weaving historical detail with lyrical prose, Cisneros has created a classic coming-of-age novel.   Mixing past with present, and filled with humor, sadness, and a lot of love, Caramelo is sure to please readers from all walks of life.

Subject Headings: Family Relationships; Girls; Grandmothers; Grandparent and child; Mexican-American families; Mexican- Americans; Mexicans in the United States; Women; Family Histories; Immigrants; Hispanics, Mexico City Mexico, Chicago Illinois

Appeal: Descriptive, Character-Driven, Lyrical, Reflective, Humorous, Moving, Atmospheric, Engaging, Intricate, Historical, Cultural, Well-Developed

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: Character-Driven, Reflective, Atmospheric

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

From Out of the Shadows (by Vicki L Ruiz): This work is a comprehensive look at the history of Mexican-American women in the twentieth century.  Combining personal stories and interviews with her narrative, the author seeks to showcase how Mexican-American women went about finding their own place in America.  This book will appeal to readers who enjoyed Caramelo for its intricate look at the history of Mexican-American women in one family.

El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City (by John Ross): This is a vibrant and gritty history of Mexico City.  The author, a journalist who has inhabited Mexico City for over three decades, tells the history and secrets of the his favorite city.  This book will appeal to readers who enjoyed the location of Caramelo, and wish to know more about the historical background of the city where the majority of the novel took place.

Gabriel’s Fire: A Memoir (by Luis Gabriel Aguilera): This is a young man’s account of growing up an immigrant in the inner city of Chicago.  He touches on what it is like to grow up as a minority in America—all the while attempting to counter mainstream prejudices about Latino culture.  This work will appeal to readers who enjoyed reading about the life and struggles of immigrants living in America.

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

Chicano (by Richard Vasquez): This novel follows the lives of four generations of a Mexican-American family who immigrated to the United States as a result of the Mexican Revolution.  This work will appeal to those who enjoyed reading an intricate family history of Mexican immigrants.

All the Pretty Horses (by Cormac McCarthy): This novel is about a man who flees to Mexico with some companions after his grandfather’s death.  This novel will appeal to readers who enjoyed the writing style of Caramelo.  Both novels are character-driven, atmospheric, and lyrical.  In addition, both are considered adult books for young adults, as well as coming-of-age literary fiction.

Gilead (by Katherine Howe): In this novel, the main character discovers multiple family secrets when she is forced to go through the possessions in her late grandmother’s home.  She uses the various items she finds to weave a tale of her grandmother’s life (leading all the way back to the Salem Witch Trials!) Readers of Caramelo will likely enjoy this work because the plot of each novel revolves around characters uncovering family secrets, as well as retelling the pasts of their grandmothers.

Name: Katie Midgley

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