Pinata. May 2020. 317p. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781558858947.
Gr 10 Up–From 1970s Laredo to present-day Houston, teen readers witness a fourth-generation Mexican American family’s history unfold. Pilar narrates modern times, with a firsthand account of being a gordita, an overweight food addict who is changing her eating habits and braving auditions for the high school play, despite being harassed for her weight. Her great-aunt Pili narrates alternate chapters set 50 years ago, observing her sister, Pera, who’s married to a misogynistic, beer-drinking, John Wayne fan, Carlos, who subjects her to insults and infidelities. Two appealing narrators and delightful descriptions of food create lightheartedness that balances some of the tragedy. It takes stamina to unpeel the layers of who is who, but many quiet insights and playful details, plus Buela’s self-deprecating humor about her English idioms, add to the humanity. Such subtle humor gives way to disappointment in an unfortunate inclusion of a present-day scene of “playing Indian”; nevertheless, this #OwnVoices debut novel renders visible a wealth of bicultural truth, and the intergenerational unraveling of machismo will resonate with young feminists.
VERDICT Redeemable for its brave inquiry into a family, while short, brisk chapters invite readers to recover their own histories and develop self-acceptance and empathy.

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