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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  6,393 ratings  ·  528 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
Latina/Latino Fiction
33rd out of 415 books — 694 voters
The House on Mango Street by Sandra CisnerosThis Bridge Called My Back by Cherríe L. MoragaWoman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra CisnerosBorderlands/La Frontera by Gloria E. AnzaldúaThe House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Chicano Chicana
7th out of 121 books — 48 voters

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Community Reviews

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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...more
Oct 11, 2007 E rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Gina Gwen
Aug 04, 2008 Gina Gwen rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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...more
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
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.
 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
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...more
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...more
Xochitl Arias
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...more
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 2 of 5 stars
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...more
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
Oct 07, 2008 C rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Jessica Vargas
Caramelo written by Sandra cisneros is Lala's story, growing up in two cultures, growing up in general, of family life and daily basis activities,and of wealth and class.. The Reyes family travels south to Mexico City each summer to spend time with Inocencio's parents. Thirteen kids caught between the Chicago culture of their daily lives and the Mexican roots of their parents.

We watch things unfold through Lala's eyes, even the things she was not there to witness. Of Aunty Light-Skin's secretari...more
Pedro Rodriguez
Sandra Cisneros’ Caramelo makes me wonder so many things with its unique writing style and makes me sleep for some random reason. In my opinion this book is complex to read because of my lack of memory.

The theme of this novel is family vs. independence because the three different uncles had to decide whether to stick with their family or each one go with their own path. I believe this is the theme because the life lesson that it gives you is that sometimes is better to stick with your family bec...more
Kristen Lemaster
I would love to study this novel in a literature course someday because it's filled with insightful ideas about traditional storytellers (cuentistas) versus Mexican mitoteros and why fiction and lies are sometimes just as valuable and important as the truth. Caramelo poetically and honestly explores identity in the Tejano world, hitting on important concepts of Latinidad like code-switching and inbetweenness, and with the constant wry, thoughtful humor that I think enriches Latino literature mor...more
Laurie Notaro
Beautifully written, compelling, follows a family from Mexico City, back generations, then to the current—while not epic, it is comprehensive and brilliantly assembled. I loved this book. Had put off reading it for ten years because I read some stupidly bad review of it. The reviewer simply didn't understand what Cisneros was doing. So glad I finally went back.
A good story, told well. But, there's too much of it, with 434 pages. I most enjoyed the portions of the novel set in Mexico City and other sites south of the border. They reminded me of visits to my relatives there. The dialogue is good enough to read aloud. I'd have given it another star if it were 50-75 pages shorter. It got a little tiresome in the middle. There are touches of magical realism in the story, which I liked.
Rita Andres
This book has been sitting on my book shelf for years. I think that it is actually Mary's book. For me, it began slowly. Although the little stories about the present day family and their visit to Mexico City and Acapulco were interesting AND funny, I almost lost interest. But then the story shifts to another generation, and it really caught my interest. Although I am not Mexican, I truly can say that this book truly was able to capture the identity of many Mexicans living in the US now. I loved...more
This was an interesting contrast to another book I read recently, The Boy Kings of Texas, only this is a female perspective of growing up in a Mexican-American family in the 60's and 70's. It also goes into the grandmother's history in Mexico City during the revolution. Since my high school Spanish classes, I have had an affinity for Latin American authors, so I really enjoyed this.
I could not completely get into this story. And while I found it enjoyable the characters at times got on my nerves and I found them quite annoying at times. Still I had to give it 3 stars because I did find some pleasure in reading it, enough to keep me content. I guess Sandra Cisneros is just not my type of author. It seems to me that she makes the narrator of Caramelo not only most of the time pitiful, but just downright pathetic. I was able to sympathize with her at times, but not throughout...more
Julie Aguilar
beautifully written.
Keri B.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Craig Werner
Very rarely has my response to a novel changed as much between first and second readings. When I first read Caramelo, I let myself be overly influenced by Studs Terkel's statement that it was a "new Grapes of Wrath." It isn't. But trying to force it into the wrong template, I grew impatient with the book in ways that allowed me to overlook almost everything that makes it wonderful. The two-star rating I gave it originally is embarrassing to reflect on now.

So...on to reading number two. The key t...more
Feb 27, 2014 Aitziber rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who oppose immigration
Recommended to Aitziber by: my mom
As I was reading Caramelo, I really wanted to give it two stars. However, I thought that was probably unfair because I was reading it in translation (Spanish). For all I knew, the unappeling aspects were simply caused or exarcebated by the translator Liliana Valenzuela. I wanted to be fair, and planned to give it the benefit of the doubt and one more star.

In the end, the book gets three solid stars. The latter half of section 2, and the first half of section 3 felt slow and unnecessary as I was...more
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Schumpp, EII Hono...: Caramelo 1 1 Apr 29, 2014 08:39AM  
Spanish language entries in Caramelo 2 39 Feb 17, 2010 05:19AM  
  • The Mixquiahuala Letters
  • The Agüero Sisters (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
  • Yo!
  • Esperanza's Box of Saints
  • George Washington Gomez: A Mexicotexan Novel
  • Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
  • The Hummingbird's Daughter
  • Rain of Gold
  • When I Was Puerto Rican
  • Loving in the War Years
  • ... y no se lo tragó la tierra ... and the Earth Did Not Devour Him
  • Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail
  • Loving Pedro Infante
  • Desert Blood: The Juarez Murders
  • Bless Me, Ultima
  • Under the Feet of Jesus
  • Bitter Grounds
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...
The House on Mango Street Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories Loose Woman My Wicked, Wicked Ways Woman Hollering Creek & The House on Mango Street

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