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3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  8,108 Ratings  ·  642 Reviews
Every year, Ceyala "Lala" Reyes' family--aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, and Lala's six older brothers--packs up three cars and, in a wild ride, drive from Chicago to the Little Grandfather and Awful Grandmother's house in Mexico City for the summer. Struggling to find a voice above the boom of her brothers and to understand her place on this side of the border and that, ...more
Paperback, 441 pages
Published September 9th 2003 by Vintage (first published 2002)
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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García MárquezLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García MárquezThe House of the Spirits by Isabel AllendeLike Water for Chocolate by Laura EsquivelThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Latino/Latina Fiction
34th out of 539 books — 833 voters
The House on Mango Street by Sandra CisnerosBorderlands/La Frontera by Gloria E. AnzaldúaWoman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra CisnerosThis Bridge Called My Back by Cherríe L. MoragaThe House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Chicano Chicana
6th out of 130 books — 71 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 24, 2008 Sonja rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dissertation
One of my top favorite books of all times. And not because Latina discourse is The Thing right now; I think most people never really get past the first 50 pages (including those academics who should know better) because it's challenging and -- I believe -- helpfully marginalizing to the Anglophone reader. The plot is circuitous, anti-teleological, and thoroughly rasquache in the political sense of the term. This could be the best Chicana novel, defining the new Chicano experience, a perspective ...more
Elizabeth Pinborough
Through the main storyteller Celaya, Cisneros has created an epic Chicana novel that deals with issues of laguage, class, race, gender, family, and being on the border of two cultures. She also brings into consideration the issue of truth-telling versus story-telling. Are they mutually exclusive? If the story is a lie should it matter? These issues only make the story more thought provoking.

My favorite aspect of the book is that it deals with the formation of the young female identity. "How bef
Oct 11, 2007 E rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
This book was definitely worthwhile, but Cisneros seems to have been a bit overwhelmed by the task of composing an entire novel. She has many, many gorgeous lines strewn about the book tied to swift dialogue and gripping mini-stories, interrupted by simply cute moments, but the plot and her point are rather blurry if not craggy. She seems to be able to create enough momentum for a certain scene, but she doesn't give much reason for what all the scenes have in common. And while it is an obvious t ...more
Ana Ovejero
Dec 29, 2015 Ana Ovejero rated it really liked it
A significant feature in Sandra Cisneros's novels is the colourful language, the unforgettable characters and the unique settings. Her stories are narratives about strong women, the ones who struggle their whole lives to make the people they love happy.

In this book we find the protagoniast 'Lala' Reyes and her family crossing the border between their homes in USA to Mexico, where Little grandfather and Awful grandmother wait for them.

During those summers, we see the relationship between the chil
Mar 17, 2013 Lauren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
I really loved this book, and I was completely surprised that I did. When I'm handed a book and the summary from the person giving it to me is prefaced by "well, it's really slow at first...", let's just say I don't have high expectations. I can be a lazy reader, but this book was completely worth the investment. I happened to read it on a quiet weekend and I think that's exactly what you need. A few hours to delve into it and I was hooked. Cisneros' writing is vivid and spare, but never pretent ...more
Gina Gwen
Aug 04, 2008 Gina Gwen rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Gina Gwen by: Mandy Roberts
I really enjoyed this book. It took me a long time to read it because I would get through a chapter (all chapters are very short) and have to reminisce about my own personal experiences. Cisneros brings to the forefront issues that many Latinas face. Annoyance of metiche family members and crazy tales they tell, but also a deep love for family. She sprinkled in Spanish words I hadn’t heard in years, that I grew up with but I just don’t hear in Austin. I did realize I am a "Texican"…ha ha, I’m no ...more
Feb 18, 2008 Jan rated it really liked it
Reading this book is like gulping a shot of high octane espresso. The writing is incredibly vivid and full of energy, sometimes it leaves you almost breathless. Caramelo is the story of a large Mexican-American family, covering several generations. Told from the point of view of Lala, the youngest daughter, we travel from Mexico City to Chicago and then to San Antonio, Texas. Along the way, we learn the story of Lala's grandparents, parents, and finally Lala herself. This book bursts with life, ...more
May 10, 2007 April rated it really liked it
Just what you'd expect from Cisneros--vivid language that leaves you with fragments of flavors, colors, sounds, and sensations. You travel to and from Chicago, Mexico, and San Antonio with the characters and you grow to love them along the way. What I didn't like was the ongoing metafictional conversation between the narrator and the grandmother about memory and facts, and how they are altered for the greater truth of the story. Why do authors writing autobiographical novels feel the need to jus ...more
Nov 23, 2007 Jez rated it it was amazing
If i could give it 10 stars I would. I loved it. Felt like home. Like hot cocoa and a tamal at Cafe Tacuba. I agree with another reviewer here, that the format will make or break it for you. But there is something about that pace, the long and the short, the truth and the better-than-the-truth, that is embedded in not only her writing, but the chicana/mexican culture as well. It doesn't straddle the border--the long road between Chicago and D.F., it is the border. That spot where things come tog ...more
Andrea Poulain
Jan 01, 2016 Andrea Poulain rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Mexicanos, latinos, todo el mundo.

Nunca me había encontrado con un libro que hablara de manera tan sencilla de mi cultura, la mexicana, y no fuera de alguien de aquí. Sandra Cisneros es descendiente de Mexicanos nacida en Estados Unidos, chicana, como quien dice. Hay mucha gente que cree que la cultura es la misma o muy parecida, que al fin y al cabo es latina, pero hay algo que cambia. Los hijos de mexicanos nacidos del otro lado de la frontera no conocen México muchas veces y hablan espa
Apr 28, 2009 Misha marked it as to-read
Shelves: book-club, unfinished
"Tell me a story, even if it's a lie." Simple words standing alone on an otherwise empty page. I like this beginning.

Pg. 21 -- I just finished the part about the father giving away Lala's Bobby doll while she watches, horrified. How is it that parents never understand the attachment that children form to that one special toy? The one that's battered and broken and torn, but is loved intensely not despite of its flaws, but because of them. Mine was "Ellie," a gray corduroy elephant my mother made
May 01, 2011 Jessica rated it it was ok
I borrowed Caramelo from the library in order to read it for a book club. I'd read The House on Mango Street years ago for a class, but what little I remember is that I wasn't especially impressed - but then I'm not even entirely sure I didn't just skim the book; it was one of those classes where you could get away with that kind of thing.

Caramelo is the chronicle of several generations of the Reyes family, Mexicans recently transplanted to Chicago. The story is narrated by Celaya (Lala), the yo
Oct 02, 2015 Kzryszthof rated it really liked it
This book kinda chose me. It explained so many things about my current life in the US, it had me reflect on my past, my present and my future. Insightful and fun, there's no order to the stories told, and sometimes it's hard to tell what story you really are reading. My guess is that Sandra envisioned this book as a big old cuento, with a lot of telenovela, and a lot of those nonsensical truths, too mundane to be called paradoxes. It's easy to get lost in her vivid characters or in their telenov ...more
May 05, 2014 Edith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is simply stunning. It's the most real book I have ever read, with exquisite lines and important truths that need to be told.

It's divided into 3 parts, and I will not lie, the 2nd part read a little slow, but it was an overall beautiful and captivating novel, and the 3rd part made up for this slowness.

This should honestly be mandatory reading for all.
Apr 15, 2015 Jennifer rated it liked it
This book is beautifully written and it's no surprise since Cisneros is a poet. It's worth reading for the descriptions alone. I always enjoy exploring other cultures through literature and really appreciate the way she lets us see into the lives of Mexican immigrants in the US and the 2nd generation children born here. There is an overarching storyline and some great storytelling moments though this is fairly loose as a novel. There are a lot of tangents and stories within stories. It holds tog ...more
Susan Emmet
Feb 02, 2016 Susan Emmet rated it it was amazing
"Tell me a story, even if it's a lie." From these lines, Ceyala Reyes is off and running, stringing her story with that of her immediate family, grandparents, ancestors and all others she encounters in Chicago, Mexico City and San Antonio...with many side stops and side shows along the way.
I'm not part of Mexican/Hispanic culture, but this multitude of stories/insights/flashes/histories just explodes for me. The language, the sensory details, the names and nicknames, the squabbles, the roadside
 Δx Δp ≥ ½ ħ
Tahun 2009 kemarin, saia terpesonakan oleh buku² dari penulis perempuan (berdarah) India. Ada Arundhati Roy, Citra Banerjee Divakaruni, Bharati Mukherjee, Kiran Desai, dan Jhumpa Lahiri. yang membuat saia terpesona dengan karya² mereka adalah mereka berhasil menulis dengan gaya perempuan yang khas, cara bertutur yang feminim, lembut, meliuk-liuk dan halus. Sampai saat ini bahkan saia tak bisa menemukan gaya kepenulisan selembut mereka. penulis Amerika Jodi Picoult mungkin bisa dibandingkan, tapi ...more
Jan 30, 2011 Dominic rated it really liked it
Caramelo is a most unusual book. It is part-memoir, part-fiction, part-retelling of The House on Mango Street, and part-dream. Knowing very well what I do of Sandra Cisneros and her generally small body of work, I can never quite tell where the line between Caramelo's main character (Lala Reyes) and Cisneros herself actually is. Several incidents in this novel even mirror Esperanza's tale and those of her poems, muddying even more the line between fact and fiction and more fiction.

When I heard C
Xochitl Arias
Aug 11, 2011 Xochitl Arias rated it really liked it
It is a bit complex for me to write a review about 'Caramelo', because it stirred all the feelings inside of me, leaving no trace of objectivity.

Life is like a telenovela mija, and indeed it is! Specially if you are mexican, because we are unos exagerados, además de metiches y mitoteros.

My grandfather also built the highway to Acapulco, here I had to laugh, and made me wonder how much of my story is true or just a healty lie... Of course I come from one of those families who were a "someone" a
Jul 07, 2011 Emma rated it liked it
In keeping with today's theme, I read this book in small bits over a pretty long period of time and as a result it was quite hard for me to get into. Cisneros's vignette-based style, which I loved in The House on Mango Street and Woman Hollering Creek, didn't hold up very well for me over the length of this long novel. And I emphasize long: this book is sprawling, but not in a good way, more like in a 'could have used a good editor' way. I actually thought often of The Brief Wondrous Life of Osc ...more
Mar 08, 2010 HeavyReader rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: someone sitting on a beach, bus, or waiting room chair
Shelves: fiction
I really enjoyed the first third of this book, told from the viewpoint of a little girl who has not yet been sent off to school and has only spent time with her extended family. The part of the story told by this young child was beautiful, very poetic, with lovely word choice. Sigh.

The middle of the book is the story of the child's "Awful Grandmother", how the grandmother met and married "the Little Grandfather," and how the two of them conceived a child (the narrator's father) out of wedlock. T
Sep 23, 2014 Melanie rated it liked it
I found this book very hard to get into at first there are so many names and horrible nicknames like the Awful Grandmother and Uncle Fat Face. I'm also not a fan of writing in one language and sprinkling in words of another without stating their meaning. However, which each book the story improved. There is the beginning which an introduction to the past and the family, then we move into the Awful Grandmother's story, and finally Lala as a late teenager beginning to understand grown up life. I r ...more
May 23, 2016 Brittany rated it it was amazing
Filled with beautiful, lively descriptions and stories, Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros really gives voice and life to the Mexican-American experience. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I would highly recommend listening to the audio version as Cisneros narrates her own story with the perfect pace and tone. If you do not speak/understand Spanish this is definitely something to consider listening to, Cisneros will often use Spanish phrases or words and it is so nice to hear them as they should be, ...more
Linda Doyle
May 28, 2015 Linda Doyle rated it it was amazing
I rarely read a novel more than once (life is too short), but I had to revisit Caramelo. I love this book. I cannot review it objectively, because it touches my soul, and I react to it emotionally. I relate to the characters, the family dynamics, and, of course, the culture. It is funny, poetic, and beautiful. I know I'll read it again . . . and again.
Aug 03, 2009 Michaela rated it it was amazing
I really love Cisneros' narrative technique in this book -- the interplay of fiction and history (complete with footnotes and backstory about the "real" events/people that pepper the novel), the changing viewpoints (Celaya vs. The Awful Grandmother), the jump in time periods (executed so much more creatively than your average flashback), the repetition of themes and words and phrases in a manner that pushes the story forward ("just enough," the girl who can't keep a secret, etc.), the way Cisner ...more
Alma Rivera
Apr 16, 2016 Alma Rivera rated it it was amazing
It's a book I want to read again immediately. A story about Celaya's families life and the legacy her ancestors left behind. I connected to so many moments in her life: growing up as half Mexican, or as my brother named us, "Mexawegians". Like Celaya, I can't draw my life without those of my siblings and those who came before me.
Oct 07, 2008 C rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
I love this book. In part because some things or places are familiar--Texas things, things about driving from the Midwest, through Texas, to Mexico. But mostly because it is a great novel. It kind of has the voice of The House on Mango Street, but there is much more to it. I heard her speak when it came out and she said that in the 20 years (or something like that) between those books she had matured so much as a writer. For instance, she said, her main character could have more siblings, like s ...more
Trish Forshey
Sep 16, 2015 Trish Forshey rated it it was ok
I found this book quite choppy and hard to follow. Everyone had a nickname and the frequent use of Spanish within the text because quite cumbersome.
Yosely Arteaga
Feb 01, 2015 Yosely Arteaga rated it really liked it
This book teaches a valuable lesson about family and about life. It portrays the life of Ceyala, the narrator, who is telling a story through the use of mini collective stories. These stories give a main idea of one simple action causing positive/negative reactions towards life and family.
Scott Cox
"The Mexicans and Russians love telenovelas with a passion, perhaps because their twin histories confirm la Divina Providencia the greatest telenovela screenwriter of all, with more plot twists and somersaults than anyone would ever think believable" (note, p.409). This is perhaps a good summary of Sandra Cisneros's evocative novel "Caramelo." In the acknowledgments, the author confesses that "writing this book has been like making a walking pilgrimage to Tepeyac from Chicago" (p.443). Perhaps. ...more
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Schumpp, EII Hono...: Caramelo 1 1 Apr 29, 2014 08:39AM  
Spanish language entries in Caramelo 2 45 Feb 17, 2010 05:19AM  
  • The Mixquiahuala Letters
  • In the Name of Salome
  • The Agüero Sisters (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
  • Esperanza's Box of Saints
  • Chicana Falsa
  • ... y no se lo tragó la tierra ... and the Earth Did Not Devour Him
  • Bitter Grounds
  • Zoot Suit and Other Plays
  • Occupied America: A History of Chicanos
  • Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail
  • Loving Pedro Infante
  • Rain of Gold
  • When I Was Puerto Rican
  • Drink Cultura: Chicanismo
  • The Hummingbird's Daughter
Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago in 1954. Internationally acclaimed for her poetry and fiction, she has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lannan Literary Award and the American Book Award, and of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the MacArthur Foundation. Cisneros is the author of two novels The House on Mango Street and Caramelo; a collection of short ...more
More about Sandra Cisneros...

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