Peel My Love Like an Onion
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Peel My Love Like an Onion

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  597 ratings  ·  60 reviews
The seductive world of flamenco forms the backdrop for a classic tale of independence found, lost, and reclaimed. Like Bizet's legendary gypsy, Carmen "La Coja" (The Cripple) Santos is hilarious, passionate, triumphant, and mesmerizing.A renowned flamenco dancer in Chicago despite the legacy of childhood polio, Carmen has long enjoyed an affair with Agustín, the married di...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 12th 2000 by Anchor (first published 1999)
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Patty
This was an interesting read. I liked the book, but did not love it. Definitely a page turner though - it was unpredictable, which was one of the things I liked about it. The uncertainty of Carmen's relationships with Manolo and Agustin kept me reading on! She also portrays some of the characters well, particularly her family. I could picture them, as well as the house that they lived in. I would have liked to have read more development in her relationship with neighbor ChiChi, as well as more d...more
Gitane
It's been more than ten years since I read Sapogonia and I loved this as much as the first. Ana weaves chicana, flamenca, and gypsy cultures with the dysfunctions of family and a downtrodden city life together so beautifully that you want to live a day in the life of Carmen. She creates a romantic triangle of heartbreak and then surprises you with a heroine at the end. Carmen la Coja will make you want to have a room at the Hollywood hotel with late nights of flamenco dancing with the gypsy boys...more
mjsquared
This was a difficult book to read due to the author's style of writing and layout of the book. The characters were not ones that I was able to relate to at all. Overall not a book I would recommend.
Rhi
He became as essential to my life as the sun that rises each morning to tell us we have not died the night before but just gone to sleep to dream.
Kari
Apr 21, 2011 Kari added it
I really, really disliked this book. The writing style was self-indulgent, and the plot too postmodern for my tastes.
Connect-ion Found
Oct 18, 2008 Connect-ion Found rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Readers, Chicagoans, Lovers, Kissers, Dancers


Chicago native Ana Castillo will not disappoint you. She knows this city and can kindle the spirit of the early Chicanos that lived where the University of Illinois at Chicago houses its campus, a controversial area often defined as East Pilsen, University Village or whatever is the newly fashioned name positioned by real estate interest.
Her expertise in the city certainly makes her a must read for Chicagoans deeply vested in the historical makeup of this diverse, robustly energetic and hard wo...more
Crease
I read Peel My Love Like an Onion based on reviews of "So far from God", a book whose acclaim caused many to place Ms. Castillo in the same class as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Junot Diaz. Upon reading such adoration AND discovering she was a Chicagoan born and raised, I decided I needed to read everything she'd ever written.

After getting past the feeling that maybe this book (the first of her offerings I could get my hands on) wasn't written for me, a black male, I found myself appreciative of h...more
Wizzard
I like this book. I can relate to the author who is similar to me in someways (politically aware, facing physical health challenges, artistic) but different in many of the specifics(flamenco dancer, Latina, Chicago) The book's pacing is wonderful, fast because it jumps around via memories and beautiful metaphors. Her style is unique -- I like it because it is informed but not academic. It is complex and alive even abstract at times but it is not heady. In my own way I want to learn from the book...more
Liana
Dec 08, 2009 Liana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers and Dancers
Recommended to Liana by: My Intuition
Perhaps I should have started my foray into Xicanisma with a different title by Ana Castillo. There is her ever mysterious-magical-realist So Far From God and there's also her first, The Mixquiahuala Letters. But I read this one. I was taken away immediately into a Chicana world I'll never know: Chicago. And flamenco dancing with gypsy lovers. But with several nods to familiar behavior and lexicon existent in my own family, I found that I could still relate. And of course it's about love so I co...more
Kelly Such
I didn't really love this book. I felt that it was slow and that it dragged on. The dilemma between the two lovers and Carmen never gets resolved.
Melissa Lee-tammeus
I've been wanting to read this for awhile now and finally got around to it. This story is a walk through a cultural wonderland. Me, being a white chick, struggled a bit, as a lot of the language is dialects of Spanish and I found myself looking up many words to keep track. It also inspired me to research flamenco dancing. Ultimately it is a story of a dancer caught between two lovers - a powerful strong female character, despite many downfalls. Expect to learn a thing or two and be inspired to r...more
Ana
what a great GREAT book
Laura
A flamenco dancer in Chicago..... what more do you need for a fantastic premise to a book? In truth, the story gets a little old, and there's definitely not enough details about the actual dancing for my taste (too many details about the typical drunken revelry of an "artist's life")... but Carmen, the main character, grew on me as she grew into herself. I really enjoyed Ana Castillo's writing style, so, even if this book doesn't rank among my favorites, it's a lead-in to Castillo's other books....more
Faye
I had that disappointed feeling when I finished this book, always a good sign of a good book. Castillo drops interesting gems about the characters in unusual ways and forces you to read very carefully or it seems you will miss something. This book is about a post-WWII family (much like my own) except for Catholic and growing up in a suburb on Long Island. Key themes are the son that goes to Vietnam, the lives of the remaining siblings, and patterns that shape our lives from generation to generat...more
Kristin Hamley
A fun read in the telenovela style. There's a deliciousness about the writing and the world it depicts. I was craving a book with some passion about life, and I found it here. It did drag for me a little in the middle, and I'm not sure why. I loved the writing and the characters, but somehow it lacked some momentum. And I kept fearing that the ending would leave me disappointed, but it didn't. Definitely worth pushing through the drag in the middle to find out how it all pans out.
Sandra
An entertaining and engrossing read. Something of a feel good book, possibly "chick lit" with its self absorbed female protagonist, but I definitely enjoyed this book. Somehow the drama, emotion, and over the top obsessions were sufficiently convincing and the story provided a brief dip into a night life/world of flamenco dance & song.

And what is not to like about a strong female protagonist, after all? :-)
Rae
I read Castillo's Massacre of the Dreamers and so I was familiar with her style of writing. Even so, I had a hard time getting into and through this love story. Carmen Santos (La Coja--The Cripple) is a polio victim who also happens to be a flamenco dancer. The book tells of her two great loves, Agustin and Manolo. I enjoyed the insights into the Hispanic/Latino culture.

A book group read.
Naomi
Jun 20, 2007 Naomi rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who love to dance
Shelves: fiction
I love this book because the voice of 'Carmen la Coja'(the protagonist) is truly authenic; she seems like someone you know. I remember telling a story to my friend once, and I was trying to remember who had originally told it to me. And then it dawned on me: the person who told me this story was not someone I actually knew. It was Carmen, in Peel My Love Like and Onion, who had first told it to me.
Crystal Davidson
I haven't finished this book yet but the author speaks in a unique voice. The book reads like a Tella Novella. The heroine is likeable and the idea of a crippled flamenco dancer is sort of hard to believe. Her romantic exploits, time with her family, and career issues are all believable and poignant. Overall, I’d recommend this novel.
Freya
Very stream of consciousness - it's my bedside book which may not be the best choice as I sometimes read, sometimes don't and it takes a while to get back into the book. It's interesting though and a bit sad... The author sets the scene very descriptively, you can smell the smoke the sweat, feel the pain of sore feet...
Tessa Stockton
A raw, introspective story of a crippled Flamenco dancer among a company of Gypsies in Chicago, this was an interesting cultural journey that inspired independence. I especially enjoyed the phrases/sentiments that Carmen la Coja’s men used. This book was funny at times, often painful.
Monica
I loved this book- it's happy and it's sad, but more importantly it shows the fierce power of getting used to people & things and what those things & people are in your life and the equal if not greater power of letting go and just living in the moment... <3 as they say tis' life
erin
As I was reading this book one rainy, Portland afternoon, I turned to my mom and expressed a desire to possibly become a professional flamenco dancer. She was not terribly supportive. Carmen's life isn't pretty or easy, but the story is real. It'll bring you down, but in a good way.
Olga
Loved this book...loved it, loved it! The narrator's voice is wry, funny, self-critical, authentic. I had many moments where I laughed out loud or demanded that my roommate read a particular passage. Read it for the love story, read it for the social justice content, but just read it.
Krista
This is my first introduction to the lyricism of Ana Castillo. I would greatly recommend for everyone to read her work, which contrasts raw emotion with beautiful word choices. Her work is both soft and jolting in the truth of emotion. I look forward to reading more of her work.
Lisa
I love Castillo's writing style - so simple and unassuming yet I found myself rereading sentences just to soak in its depth. A really interesting story about womanhood through the eyes of a flamenco dancer who is partially crippled because of polio. One of my faves for sure!
Chana
Dec 06, 2008 Chana marked it as started-then
I began this book looking to fill a void.. then i got distracted... then i forgot about the void... then, i think i found another void to fill and put this in my sub-conscious.. now, i want to get back to it, without needing a void filled, just because..
Barbara Lovejoy
This is probably not a book I would have chosen to read. I read it because it is on the Salt Lake City list for the Amigos/Libros program. I liked it and the fact that I read it in Spanish stretched me, I wasn't overly impressed.
Maria
I read this for book club. It made for a decent discussion, but mostly we agreed that there wasn't all that much depth to it. It's a quick read, but in the end I didn't care that much about the main character or the love triangle.
Karen Mahtin
Another wonderful woman's coming of age story, this one about a woman whose disabilities get in the way of (parts of) her dance career. Not as sad as you might think, because of Castillo's voice.
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“A good lover will do that, see something worthwhile in you that you never knew was there. And when there's something you don't like to see in yourself a good lover won't see it either.” 19 likes
“Poverty has its advantages. When you're that poor what would you have that anyone would want?
Except your peace of mind. Your dignity. Your heart.
The important things.”
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