Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Confetti Girl

Confetti Girl
By Diana López
Little, Brown Young Readers
Reviewer: Jo Ann

Apolonia Flores is the hero of this book. Her father says about her first name, “It’s the girl form of Apollo. He was the god of the sun. Get it? It’s my way of calling you a sunflower.” Parents! What can a teen do with them? Gratefully, everyone calls her Lina. Vanessa is her best friend, who lives across the street.

Thankfully this book is not about gangs, migrant farm workers, or crossing the border. It’s a regular book about a regular family in a regular neighborhood where the girls go to a regular school with regular problems. Do I seem a bit obsessed with regular? This is a beautiful story of a girl who has lost her mother and needs her father. Her father in his grief has immersed himself into books. How does she go about reaching through those books to her father, who holds them up in front of him? She thinks: “I see a body, a neck, and a book where his face should be.”

I enjoyed this book so much because the writing was good and the story was so real. Lina struggles with Vanessa’s breaking away from their best friend status to date a boy. The girls plot to help Vanessa’s mom. Lina grapples with how to approach a boy she likes and isn’t sure whether he likes her. The whole issue of losing a parent is dealt with in two ways: lost by death and lost by divorce. The plot of this story is the generational age dilemma of any teen and their parents: how do you reach each other to an understanding of what each needs. The ending is hilarious and would make any therapist proud.

I had read The secret blog of Raisin Rodriguez : a novel by Judy Goldschmidt and was so disappointed. Because the book’s attempts to make Raisin, just like any other girl. Seems the author created a character with no ethnic roots. I’m not talking about being a Pocho or not knowing or hiding that she is Latina. I mean the things that she worries about are just too white. With Lina, the author, Diana López, did a sensational job of presenting Lina in her environment with everyday teen problems and yet embracing her culture background. Nothing in the story was too heavy or pushed on you about culture. Even the whole discussion about cascarones was more about the girls’ story than about the history of cascarones.

I believe that the community, any and all of us, are in dire need of more books like Confetti Girl by Diana López. Stories that portray us as people with hurts, joys and loves, just like everyone else in the world in any skin color. I encourage you to rush out and buy this book. Because buying this book would show the world how proud we are of being Latino/a, of how much we support our Latino/a authors, and of how much we need and want “real” stories about ourselves doing life. Read and enjoy!
Jo Ann Hernandez has two published works: White Bread Competition and Throwaway Piece. Read more about Latino writers and books at BronzeWord Latino Authors. Enter Jo Ann's Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway, too.


MissA said...

Thanks for thegreat review Jo Ann! I'd never heard of this book, but now I want to read it. Interesting comment about the secret blog of Raisin. I've never read it, but from what I've seen/flipped through the pages, I would have to agree that it does seem like she has no ethnic roots.

Yay Hispanic Heritage Month!

D.M. SOLIS said...

It's always good to read about a book (and to read the book itself) that tells a real Latina story from a real Latina perspective. Kudos to the author, the reviewer, and Color Online. Peace and all good things for each of you in literature and in life.


Paradox said...

I agree that it's important for Hispanic teens (and other teens) to have books that portray characters with ethnic roots, but there should be some books where a POC character is raised "white," because that's the way some people grow up. They will probably question their ethnicity and identity someday, but I don't think this struggle has to be the main plot of the novel. Confetti Girl sounds very interesting!

Doret said...

ethnic roots in literature rock. Its one of the many reasons I love reading outside of myself. Thanks for pointing out this wonderful story Jo Ann.

And Susan when I saw this post my first thought was I missed one. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Susan, Ari, Doret, and Paradox. DM ah now i know your first name, Diane! I appreciate your thoughts on this review. Yes I agree that there is a need of being raised to be more white than ethnic. I was. However what I like about Confetti Girl is that the whole issue of being Latina never came up. There was no explanation of "being Latina" or anything like that. Their being Latino/a was just taken for granted as that was a part of their life. For example, if someone had a birthmark on their face and writes an article or book on makeup. They don't empahsize that makeup can cover the mark or how to avoid the mark or how badly she is treated for the mark. She talks about make up because that is what she know.

That's what I mean. None of us needs to explain why we are "whatever enough." Mexican enough. Black enough. Smart enough. All lives in whatever hue, shape, style it takes is sufficient and appropriate as it is. Thank you for the opportunity to post to your blog.
Jo Ann Hernandez
BronzeWord1 AT yahoo com
BronzeWord Latino Authors

Color Online said...

Jo Ann,

You wrote: Yes "I agree that there is a need of being raised to be more white than ethnic."

That's not what I read in Diane's comments. Why should anyone be raised to be something they are not?

Color Online said...

I read Paradox saying that there needs to be books that reflect when poc are raised to assimilate and to downplay their ethnicity. Is that what you mean, Jo Ann?

Paradox said...

I wasn't intending to say that there should be books promoting that parents of all races should raise their children "white," but that many people grow up that way, so there should be books they can relate to, especially with themes of ethnic discovery.

Color Online said...


I was asking Jo Ann.