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The Amado Women

Shelf Awareness for Readers

The women of the Amado family are tough. Disparate as their lives are, when trouble comes to any one of them, the others circle the wagons. "Don't Mess with the Amado Women" might make a more descriptive title for Désirée Zamorano's novel about three generations of a Southern Californian Latina family. Grade-school teacher and matriarch Mercy was left with three toddler daughters and a bucketful of credit-card debt when her alcoholic, philandering husband abandoned her. Now in her 60s, she still frets over her grown daughters. Divorced Celeste runs a successful financial-investment firm. Sylvia has her own daughters, a spendthrift Anglo husband and a big house in Pasadena. Unmarried Nataly, the free spirit, waits tables to pay the rent, has many sexual liaisons and makes textile art on her hand loom.

Zamorano, director of Occidental College's Community Literacy Center, eschews the stereotypical storyline of long-suffering Latina women keeping house for the rich. Instead, her protagonists are middle-class women with contemporary problems developing in the years straddling the turn of the 21st century. Celeste's business takes a hit as her clients retreat from the stock market. Sylvia's husband loses his job and runs off on a sexual adventure with another man just as their youngest daughter develops a serious medical issue. Nataly's potential big gallery break in New York vanishes with the city's post-9/11 paralysis. Yet amid all this, Mercy shares her stoic optimism with Celeste: "You lose your little girl every day... the one little girl you thought you knew and loved is replaced by another one. A little older, a little smarter, a little more independent." Life goes on, especially when one has a family of strong women for support.
- Bruce Jacobs, July 8, 2014  Visit Website

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