Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The Meltingpot Book Review -- The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters by Lorraine Lopez
The Meltingpot has been stricken by an unpleasant stomach bug and her hunting trip for Black Virgins postponed. I hope to still visit Chipiona before we have to head back to the United States and I will definitely keep you posted on what we find.
But that doesn't mean I don't have something to share today. Seeing as how I spent almost 24 hours in bed yesterday waiting for my stomach to stop trying to stage a revolution, I took advantage of the quiet and read, The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters by Lorraine Lopez. And it was so good, I almost didn't mind the stomach pains.
I picked this book off the shelf at the bookstore before I left without knowing anything about the author. As you know, I'm pretty much a sucker for any novel that features non-White characters. It's my soft spot. So based on the title alone and the flap copy I decided to take a risk on this book that sounded like it would be a cross between, Like Water for Chocolate and Little Women.
The story spans almost 20 years in the lives of four Hispanic sisters whose mother has died at the beginning of the story. In alternating chapters we hear from each sister who narrates the family history. Woven between the sisters' sometimes heartbreaking and often hilarious tales, is the story of the Hopi woman who was the family servant, but treated like a treasured member of the family. And in the spirit of Like Water for Chocolate, there's something mystical about the Hopi woman, an otherworldly mystery that all four girls need to unravel to find peace in their own lives.
I loved this book because the characters were so unique (each sister is named after a famous film star, i.e. Sophia Loren Gabaldon and Bette Davis Gabaldon) and well developed. What's more, the story of a contemporary Hispanic family (the story takes place from the 1960s - 1980s) that isn't about being Hispanic as much as it is about being a family -- marriage, divorce, children, annoying relatives, incest, drug abuse, etc -- feels rare. Anybody, regardless of their ethnicity, who is part of a large family will recognize the drama and sympathize with the characters, especially if they have sisters.
After reading The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters, I will definitely be adding Lorraine Lopez to my list of favorite authors. She has a short story collection coming out in the fall and has already written a YA novel and another short story collection. Has anybody else read this book, or any other by Lopez? What did you think? And based on my review, can you recommend any other books like this you think I or other Meltingpot Readers might like? I'm listening.