The last weekend roundup was really short. Don’t worry, I wasn’t being curt. I was getting ready to represent the Hispanic community with the group I volunteer with in a local parade! I wore a traditional dress and even dressed my daughter in her little Puerto Rican dress. (If you’re wondering why a Tejana puts her daughter in that dress, it’s because my daughter is Mexi-Rican, LOL).
Becoming Americana, by Lara Rios, is a 2006 book I rescued from the clearance bin at Books-A-Million. While researching the author, who is argentina, I found that she is now writing under the nom de plume Julia Amante. As Lara Rios, she wrote Becoming Americana and Becoming Latina in 10 Easy Steps, as a well as a blog that appears not to be updated anymore. As Amante she has scribed two more novels, Evenings at the Argentine Club and Say You’ll be Mine, and a blog.
Phew! Now that we’ve got that straightened out, let’s get back to the book. The book is about Lupe, a very feisty young woman that survived the hard streets of East L.A. and her even meaner cholo brother. But Lupe manages to turn her life around, attending college and finding a professional job, and crushing on her mentor, Nash. Who isn’t reciprocating. Oops! But no worries – now Will steps in as boyfriend (and a tug-of-war start in her heart). But Lupe, who at first wants to volunteer at the local center for at-risk teens and attend college, becomes distracted by the men in her life (including her pendejo brother) and the taste of a real job and real money. The overall theme of the book is the pull in both directions between Mexican heritage and American lifestyle – something I think all Chicanos know very well.
Some details of Lupe’s hardscrabble life are just gut-wrenching and hard to read. Nevertheless, there are still the elements of chica-lit which make this a light beach read. I could relate to the novel because I know how easy it is to become distracted from your education by life’s necessities, family, and love relationships. I think Rios’s ultimate message to women is that they should choose what’s best for themselves. In chapter 22, Rios writes, “Becoming Americana involves breaking the unwritten family code of ‘family first.’ The new mantra becomes ‘me first.'” As a Latina, that is something heartbreaking to realize. Read the book, and if you don’t relate already, you’ll understand the meaning.