Lala Reyes' grandmother is descended from a family of renowned rebozo --, or shawl-makers. The striped (caramelo) is the most beautiful of all, and the one that makes its way, like the family history it has come to represent, into Lala's possession. The novel opens with the Reyes' annual car trip -- a caravan overflowing with children, laughter, and quarrels -- from Chicago to "the other side": Mexico City. It is there, each year, that Lala hears her family's stories, separating the truth from the "healthy lies" that have ricocheted from one generation to the next. We travel from the Mexico City that was the "Paris of the New World" to the music-filled streets of Chicago at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties -- and finally, to Lala's own difficult adolescence in the not-quite-promised land of San Antonio, Texas.
Caramelo is a vital, wise, romantic tale of homelands, sometimes real, sometimes imagined. Vivid, funny, intimate, historical, it is a brilliant work destined to become a classic: a major new novel from one of our country's most beloved storytellers.
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Caramelo, Sandra Cisneros's first novel since her celebrated The House on Mango Street, weaves a large yet intricate pattern, much like the decorative fringe on a rebozo, the traditional Mexican shawl. Through the eyes of young Celaya, or Lala, the Reyes family saga twists and turns over three generations of truths, half-truths, and outright lies. And, like Celaya's grandmother's prized caramelo (striped) rebozo, so is "the universe a cloth, and all humanity interwoven.... Pull one string and the whole thing comes undone." The Reyes clan, from Awful Grandmother Soledad and her favorite son Inocencio to Celaya, follow their destinies from Mexico City to the U.S. armed forces, jobs upholstering furniture, and to Chicago and San Antonio. Celaya gathers and retells, in over 80 chapters, the stories that reinforce her family's, and subsequently her own, identity as they travel between the U.S.-Mexican border and within the United States. Rich with sensory descriptions and animated conversations and peppered with Mexican cultural and historical details, this novel can hardly contain itself. Also an acclaimed poet, Cisneros writes fiercely and thoroughly, and her characters enter and exit the page with uncommon humanity. Although the book is long--over 400 pages plus a relevant U.S.-Mexico chronology--in many ways it's not long enough. The world of the 20th-century Mexican family, and of the Reyeses in particular, is as complicated, timeless, and satisfying as our own family stories. --Emily RussinFrom the Back Cover:
"All the energy of a riotous family fiesta. . . . Cisneros is undeniably at her peak.” – The Washington Post
"A glorious book, Caramelo is crowded with the souvenirs and memories of the dramas of everyday life…like an oversized family album, intimate as well as universal."— The Philadelphia Inquirer
"A joyful, fizzy American novel. . . Soulful, sophisticated and skeptical, full of great one-liners, it is one of those novels that blithely leap across the border between literary and popular fiction.” – New York Times Book Review
"Like Eduardo Galeano, John Dos Passos and John Steinbeck, Cisneros writes along the borders where the novel and social history intersect. In this lovingly told and poetic novel, she uses the storytelling art to give the voiceless ones a voice, and to find the border to the past, imbuing the struggles of her family and her countries with the richness of myth.” – Los Angeles Times
“A wonderful book . . . evoking life’s absurdity and possibility, tragedy and transcendence. . . . Combines the thematic richness of the most ambitious literature with the delight in character and plot of the most engrossing page-turner.” – Chicago Sun-Times
“Cisneros is a writer for all people. This is a novel of families, home life and finding yourself in the world’s greater landscape.” – USA Today
“A sprawling, exuberant hopscotch through a century of family history. . . . Cisneros seduces us with her knitted tales, great and small, and her message is all the more powerful for its shimmering clarity.” – Time Out New York
“Cisneros has a great eye for detail, a good ear for dialogue and a marvelous sense of humor. . . Caramelo is a tour de force–rich in its use of language, breathtaking in scope.” – St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Lovingly, passionately woven from dust and glory. . . A sweeping family history that somehow manages to interlace not just the Reyeses -- those conjurers, enticers and troublemakers -- but also all the rest of us, the good and bad together, the bitter and, of course, the sweet.” – Miami Herald
“Sprawling, spirited. . . Vibrant and big-hearted.” – Elle
“Cisneros’s exuberant prose tickles the senses. . . A warm and generous story to wrap yourself up in.” – St. Petersburg Times
“A sweet gift from the universe, a reminder of the ancient, deep, noble, and sad sources of the human heart. . . sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes transcendent.” – San Antonio Express
“Cisneros is a virtuoso. . . [ Caramelo] is rich in character and action, people and passions.” – Houston Chronicle
“Remarkable. . . . Caramelo is a book to read slowly and savor and if you can find a listener, to read out loud.” – Santa Fe New Mexican
“Cisneros is such an imaginative storyteller. . . Caramelo engages in a kind of playfulness that is utterly bewitching.” – Entertainment Weekly
“Spellbinding. . . A richly satisfying novel.” – People
“There should be a brand-new language to describe the ways in which [Cisneros] has imbued the ancient art of story-telling with her trademark organization, characterization, evocation of time and place, portrayal of a particular culture, and visionary wisdom. . .You must read this book for yourself, two or three times.” – The Women’s Review of Books
“Cisneros is a wonderful cultural translator, writing English dialogue so saturated with Mexican-Spanish idioms and constructions that you feel like you’ve been magically empowered to eavesdrop in another language.” – The Oregonian
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Book Description Book Condition: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 97800605159111.0