Felina's Reviews > Like Water for Chocolate

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
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Jun 23, 10

bookshelves: star-3, 2010
Read in January, 2010

This book is totally and utterly bizarre. Its historical fiction with a slight hint of magic and in most places left me a little bit more hungry than entertained.

I would first like to point out that the miracle of child birth is lost on me. Perhaps it’s that I’m not married and have never been ‘in love’ and thus never felt the need to sire my own off-spring but the idea of pushing some 10 pound screaming larva out of my most delicate places totally grosses & freaks me out. So this books description of child birth, breast feeding and that ‘most beautiful feeling of babies in the womb’ mostly just made my naughty places ache.

But as far as hot and steamy goes, this book had plenty. I won’t lie that I enjoy a good romp in a book from time to time. Some of the ‘intimate’ moments were awkward and were I to be in Tita’s position I would have been completely mortified. But what I really liked about this book was the passion.

Sex, in our culture, is completely blown out of proportion, either conservatively or liberally. People either discuss it too often and explore its realms with reckless abandon or they tie it up and put it in a box and never discuss it. Sex is a part of life. Passion is a part of life and denying that natural part of ourselves leads to extreme underlying issues. Issues that I think this book discusses very well.
I don’t think a human being was ever meant to spend their entire life without ever having a single intimate moment. I think the lack of touch will drive a person to do things that they normally wouldn’t do. And mostly, I think religious beliefs about sex have destroyed what sex is supposed to be.

I think Mama Elena is a very clear symbol for tradition and how it stifles progression without ever bothering to ask if it still applies or was ever pertinent in the first place. It think she is a metaphor for this concerning sex, religion, politics or anything debatable. I’m not saying that progression for progressions sake is always the answer but I do think people should understand what they believe and make sure it still makes sense to them. Mama Elena’s beliefs concerning Tita’s ‘place’ in their family was based purely on tradition and did not take into account the person only the principle. An unfortunate lesson of bigotry that was passed down to Rosaura who, were it not for her untimely and most appropriate death, would have been a death sentence (more a term for a lack of living than an actual physical death) for little Esperanza.

Mama Elena’s frequent appearances after her death, goes to show how difficult it is for people to shuck beliefs instilled in them during their upbringing. Although Tita disagreed with the traditions forced upon her by her mother, until she confronted her issue and decided upon a course of action, her mother/tradition still haunted her.
I think Gertudis is the perfect example of what happens to people when their natural tendencies are stifled to the breaking point. Catching fire and running naked through a field only to be swept up onto a horse by a soldier to spend the rest of her days as prostitute and rebel commander? A bit much but you get the point.

Being that I come from a Mexican family, I found a lot of the modesty and professions of pureness to be extremely giggle-worthy. Mexican’s , in general, are a very passionate people. The only thing in this book that I thought was so appropriate to what I have learned about my own family was Mama Elena’s ‘transgressions’ in her youth. Don’t tell anybody but I know for a fact that a few of my father’s 13 brothers and sisters were not my grandfathers and that several of my grandmothers sister’s children look a great deal like my grandfather. O.o

For the most part I found this book to be disjointed, leaping from past to future without any indication. I liked the style of writing and as always, enjoyed the magic that was tossed into the book. And the recipes…oh god the recipes. Makes me want to go visit my little Abuela and get some good old fashion Mexican cooking. Mole and tamales here I come.
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