The Girls from the Revolutionary Cantina: A Novel

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9780312593087: The Girls from the Revolutionary Cantina: A Novel

Inspired by their good-natured rivalry, career-oriented best friends Julia Juarez and Ime Benevides have never let anything come between them. Then enters Julia's new coworker, Ilario, who pulls both women's heartstrings, disrupts their friendship, and brings Julia's career to the brink of disaster.

Looking for support, Julia turns to her other friends: Concepción, a party-obsessed dance instructor; Nina, a timid but shrewd seamstress who's not too taken with her fiancé; and Marta, owner of the Revolutionary Cantina, who is preoccupied with the details of a Hollywood murder case. When they involve Julia in a risky scheme, she must choose between her loyalty to her friends and a chance to live the life she's worked so hard to achieve.

Boasting irreverent, edgy humor and a clear sense of Southern Californian culture, this hilarious, insightful debut novel by award-winning author M. Padilla brilliantly captures the comforts and dangers of friendship.

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About the Author:

M. Padilla is a winner of the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize and a California Arts Council artist fellowship. Padilla lives in West Hollywood, California.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1
Risks and Opportunities
Even now Julia cringed to think about it: how she must have appeared to him, caught standing in the middle of his office, riffling through his things. Monica from his sales group had assured her he was gone for the day, so how could she resist peeking in to see what she could learn about him—this company hero with the stunning gray eyes, ese hot papi chulo, as her friend Concepción called him. She’d wanted a closer look at the photo on his desk, the one of the San Fernando Valley beauty queen rumored once to have been his fiancée. Satisfied that she was only marginally beautiful, Julia had lingered. She’d taken the jacket from the back of his chair and pressed it to her nose, enjoying the sweet scent of cologne. That was when he had appeared in the doorway with a look of shock, eliciting from her a sharp gasp. And the lie she had come up with: She was looking for a lighter. A lighter! She wasn’t a smoker; he and everyone else she worked with knew it.
“Be thankful he’s not in your sales group,” Ime said when Julia called the next day to lament her blunder. “Imagine if you had to work with him every day.”
“I don’t think I could feel any more humiliated,” Julia said.
“You need to talk to him. Make nice, but not so nice that he thinks you’re stalking him.”
“Maybe I should take up smoking,” Julia said.
Ime laughed warmly. A knot of tension loosened in Julia’s chest. She could always count on Ime to make her feel better. Her laugh alone was sometimes all it took. Friends since the age of seven, they had grown up together in the northeastern part of the San Fernando Valley, daughters of hardworking Mexican parents reaching for an American Dream that always seemed a little out of reach. Of all Julia’s friends, only Ime, with her burgeoning real estate career and fearless financial risk-taking, had broken through to a life that resembled what their parents had dreamed of. Julia was not far behind, a fact she owed to Ime demanding her company on the way up the ladder of success. Julia was grateful for her encouragement. She owed Ime in more ways than she could count.
“I’m heading over to Marta’s now,” Ime said. “Why don’t I swing by and get you?”
“I’m too far out of your way. I’ll meet you there.”
“It’s no trouble. It’ll give us a chance to talk without those chismosas knowing every bit of our business.”
“Those chismosas are our friends,” Julia said.
“You signed a lifetime agreement with them,” Ime said. “I’m on month-to-month.”
Julia told Ime she’d be waiting for her outside her apartment in ten minutes. At her bedroom mirror she ran a brush through her hair and applied a little blush. She examined her face from several angles—the tawny cheeks, the expensive new salon cut. She didn’t think she looked like a pervert. She looked like someone who deserved success.
At her closet she slipped into the Marc Jacobs jacket Ime had given her for Christmas, then went to get her good Celine pumps from where she’d left them under the coffee table. She snapped one onto each foot, practiced a few of the salsa steps her friend Concepción had taught her, then tugged her belt to a fresh notch on the way out the door.
Outside, the day was cool and bright and dry. The San Gabriel Mountains stood clear and sharp in the distance from the winds that had blown through the San Fernando Valley the night before. On the sidewalk she dodged a couple of kids chasing another kid with fronds that had broken loose from the towering palms in front of her building.
When Ime pulled around the corner, Julia understood immediately why she’d been so eager to pick her up. She was behind the wheel of a new silver BMW 5 Series. She pulled up to the curb, rolled down her window, and propped her sunglasses on her head.
“Show-off!” Julia said, stepping up to the car. “¡Híjole! It’s beautiful, Ime. You didn’t tell me you were thinking of trading up.”
Ime flashed a proud grin. “Not bad for a girl from Pacoima, eh? It’s got ten-speaker audio and heated seats and a three-liter dual overhead cam—ha, what ever that is!”
Julia’s gaze followed the car’s contours as she circled to the passenger side and got in. She ran her hands over the buttery leather seats, breathed in the pungent mix of leather and plastic. “My God, Ime, are you sure you can afford this?”
Ime rolled her eyes. “I knew that’s the first thing you’d ask. To make it in my business you have to look the part. I’d let you drive, but with your record . . .” With a mischievous smile, she put the car in gear and tore out with a squeal of rubber.
“Careful,” Julia said, tensing. “Kids.”
Ime took San Fernando Road through downtown San Fernando, then cut south on Van Nuys Boulevard past the commercial districts of Pacoima, Arleta, and Panorama City, where shop signs alternated between English and Spanish. The wide, flat boulevard had been their weekend cruising grounds as teenagers, before any notion of themselves as “career women” had begun to take hold.
A few minutes later, the abandoned GM plant appeared on their left. The sight of the old, fading buildings always made Julia feel heavy and knotted. Her and Ime’s fathers had worked assembly there until ’92, when the company sent its production jobs to Canada. Though the plant’s closing hadn’t been a surprise, it had marked the beginning of Julia’s father’s struggle to find permanent, stable work. She remembered the shame in his face after long days of searching but coming up empty-handed. She remembered her mother’s anxiousness every time a bill came in the mail. Seeing her once bright, happy parents weighed down by worry had led Julia to promise herself this—that she would build enough security to never have to be in that position herself.
Ime was a part of that security, as were her other friends. Julia held Ime close because she knew she could be counted on, in spite of her flaws, in spite of her self-absorption. She was her safety net. When they were both in their early twenties, Julia’s father had announced that he and her mother were going to have to sell the little two-bedroom house Julia had grown up in; they could no longer make the mortgage payments. Julia had just started taking business classes at Valley College, which she believed would put her on track for the kind of career and security she wanted. A sinking feeling had overcome her as she realized that the only way to help her parents save their house was to quit school to work full-time. Ime, already making great money in her second year selling houses, had stepped in—not only with the money to help them catch up on their mortgage payments but with enough cash to pay off the house. Knowing Julia’s parents wouldn’t have accepted the money directly from her, she’d funneled it through Julia, letting her be the hero. When Julia offered to sign something promising to pay her back, Ime had cut her off firmly. “The only thing I want in return,” she’d said, taking Julia’s hand and squeezing it hard, “is a promise to stick with me. Successful Latinas don’t get support from anybody but each other.”
A sudden tap on the brakes brought Julia back to the present. With a nod toward the plant, Ime said, “They’re turning that into a mall.”
“Really? A mall?” It was hard for Julia to picture the plant as anything other than what it had been.
“Everything in the Valley eventually gets turned into a mall.” Ime said this optimistically, without sorrow or nostalgia. The past never blurred her view of the opportunities that came with change.
Approaching the Revolutionary Cantina, Ime started searching for a parking space out front. Failing to find one that would allow her to keep an eye on her car from the bar, she settled for a spot two blocks south. She and Julia got out and hugged, then started walking quickly side by side down the street. They talked over pedestrians and each other, breaking apart to pass people and coming together again still in conversation.
“There’s something I wanted to ask you,” Ime said as they came to a light. “A little favor that shouldn’t put you out too much.”
Julia slumped her shoulders in frustration. She knew what was coming—the same favor Ime brought up every few weeks.
“I want you to introduce me to some of your co-workers,” Ime said. “You know, just to get my business card out, plant a few seeds.”
“Ime, how many times do I have to tell you—”
“I know, I know. You think it puts your co-workers in an awkward position—”
“Exactly! There are millions of other prospects out there. Please stop bugging me.”
“I didn’t get to where I am today without bugging a few people,” Ime said.
Julia said nothing. Silence was the only way to get Ime to change this subject.
“Fine,” Ime said after a few seconds. The light turned and they stepped into the street. They were almost at the Cantina when Ime said, “By the way. How are your mom and dad doing? I happened to drive down their street the other day. The house sure is looking nice with all that new landscaping.”
Julia wagged her head in disbelief. “You’re unbelievable, Ime. Un. Be. Lievable.”
At the Revolutionary Cantina, first Ime, then Julia pushed through the glass doors. As usual during the afternoons, the narrow little place, decorated with framed photos of determined-looking mustachioed Mexican revolutionaries like Emiliano Zapata and Rodolfo Fierro, was nearly e...

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Book Description Griffin. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 356 pages. Dimensions: 8.3in. x 5.5in. x 1.3in.Inspired by their good-natured rivalry, career-oriented best friends Julia Juarez and Ime Benevides have never let anything come between them. Then enters Julias new coworker, Ilario, who pulls both womens heartstrings, disrupts their friendship, and brings Julias career to the brink of disaster. Looking for support, Julia turns to her other friends: Concepcin, a party-obsessed dance instructor; Nina, a timid but shrewd seamstress whos not too taken with her fianc; and Marta, owner of the Revolutionary Cantina, who is preoccupied with the details of a Hollywood murder case. Whenthey involve Juliain a risky scheme, she must choose between her loyalty to her friends and a chance to live the life shesworked so hard to achieve. Boasting irreverent, edgyhumor and a clear sense of Southern Californian culture, this hilarious, insightfuldebut novel by award-winning author M. Padilla brilliantly captures the comforts and dangers of friendship. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780312593087

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