Thursday, February 28, 2008

Book Review: Growing up with Tamales

Okay, before I write this review, I have a confession to make.

The author? Gwenolyn Zepeda? I have a bit of a friend crush on her.

Shortly after I had Boy and Girl Child and I moved to North Carolina and my life was a glaring pit of despair and whatnot? I got internet access. I know, I know. I'm old and crap. My children are amazed that I didn't have internet when I was in Elementary school ("How did you look things up?" they ask, in astonishment and having no concept of Encyclopedias). But I didn't have it.

I mean, I knew about it. I used to work for a company that did customer service for Prodigy (remember them? Old School!) and I heard all about old men calling in because they couldn't find the porn. Good times, everyone. Really.

Anyway, somehow and I have no idea how now, I found Gwen's website. This was back before they were called blogs. In the olden days!


Gwen's website/blog/whatever you want to call it? Hilarious. Insightful. Wonderful. Whatever day it was that I started reading, I went back and read every single entry that she had and eagerly looked forward to whatever else she would write. Unlike many of the websites I was reading at the time (my own website at the time? Jesus God. It was basically a bunch of pictures of the kids with captions like, "I'm so big!" "Look at me!" Oh my Lord, I was a Mommy blogger before I even knew what that meant!), Gwen's was honest about things like, weight and poverty and single motherness. All of those things I dealt with, but I was posting crap like pictures of my kids in matching Weebok.

So Gwen? Was an inspiration.

My own website went downhill (quickly! QUICKLY!) and I abandoned it. But I kept up with Gwen. I never commented, because I didn't want her to think a) I was a stalker or b) That I was a huge dork.

Eventually, I started my own blog and when people started reading and commenting, I realized that people really like to get those comments. That it's important to tell people you think they rock when you, you know, think they rock. So I started commenting on Gwen's blog. And then one day? I looked at her links? And my blog was there. And seriously? I could not stop smiling. Even if she just did it to be nice. I don't care.

So. That long-ass explanation was probably totally unnecessary. I just wanted to share my pathetic joy with everyone.

I got the book on Tuesday. My daughter was standing there when I opened it and she asked if she could read it as her required reading for the evening. So technically, Girl Child reviewed it before I did. And Girl Child? Loved it.

The book is a children's book and the primary character is a girl named Ana. Ana envies her older sister Lidia because of her responsibilities in the family tradition of making tamales. The years go by and Ana always says she will do what Lidia did...but Lidia, always being older of course, is one step ahead.

Both Girl Child and I loved Ana. She reminded me a lot of Girl Child; spunky and funny and determined. I know that Girl Child will be whoever she wants to be when she grows up, and I got the sense that Gwen wanted that feeling of "Girl Power" for Ana.

As a bonus, the book is written in both English and Spanish. I want to learn Spanish, badly. Girl Child knows more Spanish than I do. She had a really good time trying to pronounce all the words. Considering we're from East Tennessee, it was probably much more hilarious than I am currently portraying it.

I loved the book. I loved the illustrations. I loved how the book flowed. I loved Ana.

I loved it. Girl Child loved it. So I guess that means four thumbs up.

You can pre-order Growing up with Tamales at Amazon. You can also order Gwen's other book To the Last man I slept with and all the other jerks just like him, if you are so inclined. And if you are not already, you should be reading her blog.

Because I said so.


J said...

Chick! Do you remember when I wrote my blog about why I love each of you? And I said all that about how proud I was of myself because YOU read my blog? YOU ARE MY GWEN!!

That is exactly how I felt when I saw my name on your blogroll. I was so proud.

I will go check out her blog, and her books. Thanks for the reccomendation!!!

Angie said...

Dang it, I was gonna say that. . . .except I was going to add that in OUR parallel universe, I will celebrate and read YOUR book to E & C when it comes in the mail.

Unless, of course, it has "douchebag" in the title. Becasue I'm just not sure I want to explain that concept to EITHER child! :)

HeatherAnn Fragglehead said...

That's awesome! It's great to be on a blogroll, even better when it's someone that you totally look up to. If I could figure out the whole blogroll thing, I would totally have you on it. Because you? Are the shiznit.

Jill said...

that's so funny! a tennessee accent is just crazy, i can't imagine that with spanish thrown in..

Anonymous said...

Yes, could you please post some of the book's dialogue with as you interpret it with a Tenessee accent? Pretty please?

Anonymous said...



Yes, I know how to spell.

(Have I mentioned that I'm SICK??)

Anonymous said...

How very freaking cool!

If Little Man could read, I'd totally consider getting the book for him.

But he's an illiterate two year-old.

Who poops his pants.

I'm worried we'll never marry him off.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Oh my Bob. I did the same thing when I found your site.

And I even stole...umm...paid homage to your fab use of the question mark. Seriously, my writing style totally shifted gears because of reading your blog. And I love it.

bichonpawz said...

Because you suggested it, I will go and check out Gwen's blog!! Yes, M'am...comments are GOOD.

Allie said...

I read only one blog for about six months and that blog was yours. I finally started reading more after J told about a million times to check out so and so but you were my first, you were my Gwen. When I get a comment from you I get excited, I tell J, "Chick commented on my blog!" She always giggles at how excited I get.

Emma in Canada said...

I will defo go read her blog.