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The Last of the Menu Girls

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  180 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Rocío Esquibel is a girl growing up in a Southern New Mexico town with her mother and sister. She defines her neighborhood by its trees—the willow, the apricot and the one they call the marking-off tree. Rocio knows she was born in the closet where she and her sister now take turns looking at the picture of Jesus whose eyes light up in the dark. But at night she enters a ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by Vintage (first published 1986)
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Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetic-prose
I found this book in the 1 dollar shelf of Powell's. It is either comprised of a series of short stories or of a series of rather disconnected chapters surrounding the main character Rocio. At times it is brilliant and well crafted narrative and at others it is almost schizophrenic stream of consciousness. Sometimes it's both at once: "I have decided to buy the gift package of 'Evening in Paris Cologne and Bath Water' for my Mother. "I'll take this please," my voice falters. I don't remember how ...more
I chose to read The Last of the Menu Girls by Denise Chávez because of my obsession with New Mexico but I finished it because of the beauty of the language. The book is a collection of related stories about Rocio Esquibel, a young girl who, in the course of these stories, becomes a young woman and a writer. Her subject: the small town in southern New Mexico she grew up in. And even more than the town, the street she lived on.

The stories are full of people vividly depicted. But the best thing of
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Well first of all thank you school for causing me to take two weeks to read a 220 page book. Anyway, whilst reading this book I felt lost. Multiple times. The author didn't provide the reader with the age of the main character most of the time, and this was almost vital information because the story jumps around to different time periods in the MC's life a lot. The writing was jumpy and erratic. The prose in general was well written and unique, but I couldn't fully appreciate it because of the ...more
Nov 13, 2010 rated it liked it
A beautifully written though tedious book about a young woman's coming of age in Texas and New Mexico. I admire the writing and wish I had the talent to emulate Chavez's words. The book was tedious because it had no plot. That is the only complaint I seem to have nowadays with literary writing. Some of it is good, with a steady handle on story, but some of it lacks the glue that would otherwise make it memorable.
Aug 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a very challenging book to read. It is amazing though. It is very culturally significant, which I love. I was able to study this book and BYU and loved getting a chance to read and analyze it. There is a lot to this book, very deep.
Oct 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
Liz wrote her thesis on this book so I was intrigued (plus it takes place in the Southwest). I liked some of the stories more than others. It has a poetic feel to it, which is nice at times, but I couldn't help but feel that it was trying too hard to be deep and coming short.
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is a series of related short stories revealing a young girl's growing understanding of the world. At first, she sees the boundaries of the neighborhood; later, she sees the boundaries of the people around her. At first, the world is tremendously interesting and a bit scary; later, it's sort of raggedy and painful, something to figure out,

The book's strengths are its insightful descriptions of people and places, along with the dialogues that the main character has with herself and that she
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Admittedly, I struggled a little with this book. I liked it, but then I did not. If Chavez's intent was to tell the stories of the people on her street, I had to have that spelled out for me in the end. At first, I wondered if she was working with fragmented stories within a story to reflect random memories, which in some cases works well. But the stories are so fragmented at times that I lost sight of the characters and the narrator of the story. There are also some areas that feel overdone, ...more
If asked to rate this book when I first read it in my early twenties (15 years ago now), I likely would have given it 5 stars. It delves into great pain - a pain I well resonated with from my own growing up - with lyrical beauty. The questions of what it means to be beautiful, what it means to be a woman, what it means to be our own self, encircle and threaten to strangle the protagonist here. I recognized myself.

In reading it now, though, I find myself revisiting all that pain, for no
Nov 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Denise Chavez wrote one of my favorite books, Loving Pedro Infante, but I found this book difficult to read. The writing style was difficult to follow. I did stick with it because I hate to start a book and not finish it and some of the storytelling was so vibrant I could picture the scrub brush desert of New Mexico; however, at other times, the story rambled a bit and I was bored.
May 14, 2013 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this because I love the SW but the wandering style left me cold. I usually try to get half way through a book before giving up on it. I quit midway in the book. That was enough time for me.
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Jan 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Coming of age is never easy, in any culture.
Mar 09, 2009 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book, but couldn't get passed the babbling style.
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Mar 28, 2012
Amy Lindsay
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Nov 23, 2017
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Jul 23, 2015
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Mar 08, 2011
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May 20, 2019
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Oct 27, 2008
Sara Gandaria-Escamilla
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Jan 25, 2008
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May 21, 2008
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Jun 23, 2008
Megan Grzybowski
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Feb 23, 2014
Haley Davis
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May 08, 2015
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500 Great Books B...: The Last of the Menu Girls - Denise Chávez 1 2 Jul 15, 2014 01:36PM  

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Denise Elia Chavez (born August 15, 1948) is an American author, playwright, and stage director. She was born to an Hispano family in Las Cruces, New Mexico, United States, and graduated from Madonna High School in Mesilla. She received her Bachelor's from New Mexico State University and Master's degrees in Dramatic Arts from Trinity University. While in college, she began writing dramatic works. ...more
“Only farmers and the young, who live dependent upon change, understand what it is to know the continual flowering of life, however subtle.” 1 likes
“To me, Texas signified strange days, querulous wanderings, bloody fairy tales, hot, moon-filled nights, earthworms, and unbought flowers. Texas was women to me: my aunt dying of cancer, my grandmother’s hunchbacked sister, and Eloisa. All laughing, laughing.” 0 likes
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