"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Tequila Worm


My compañeros over at La Bloga had the pleasure of announcing The Tequila Worm winning the Pen Award. It is my pleasure to review it.

I fell instantly in love with this book and with Sofia, the main character. The stories in The Tequila Worm are heart-warming and lovely. There were so many little things that I loved about it, that it's hard to write about just a few without giving away the whole book.

The book is about Sofia, a young girl living in a poor Mexican barrio. She has an amazing family that is rich in tradition, love and wisdom. Her strong community teaches her many things, all designed to make her a comadre, a title of honor within her barrio. Being a comadre is something sacred to aspire to, it is being a woman and more, that spiritual extra that imbues the Mexican/Chicana woman. Sofia has many role models and wonderful people to teach her the important things she needs to know on her road to becoming a comadre. I fell in love with the Storyteller Clara and her bag. The tradition of storytellers is one that is so precious and necessary in our culture that it was a deep pleasure to see how important it was in this book.

Sofia struggles as many of us do with fitting in, wanting more, leaving the barrio and going against the traditions that mean so much but, because we live here in these times, we often need more. I was touched by how she fought for what she wanted, needed but cared so much about how those wants and needs would affect those around her.

This is a tremendous book and so much more than just stories about a girl who lives in a barrio. These are life lessons and one of those books that will make it to my long list of favorites that I read again and again.

I'm thankful I read it and so thankful to those publishers that take the gamble, publish something that isn't the typical and in doing so enrich the world with books like these that benefit us all and teach us that we are all not so different.

The Tequila Worm is Viola Canales first book and has also won the Pura Belpre Award. Keep writing Ms. Canales, we need you.


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