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3.91  ·  Rating details ·  10,749 ratings  ·  896 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 September 24th 2002)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,749 ratings  ·  896 reviews

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Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I never ever wanted this book to end. It's like Cisneros wrote about my life and told it to make fun of it with me and then to appreciate it together.

This had our car trips back to Mexico from CA not Chicago (Michoacan not Mexico City) with all the food and candy involved. I miss this memory now as an adult.

I really don't know if anyone that isn't Latino or knows about the Mexican experience will understand or get this but it is worth the laughs.

I loved her chronological timeline of Mexican hi
Jul 24, 2008 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
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019, modern-lit
I enjoyed this Mexican-American family story rather more than I expected to, so thanks to the 21st Century Literature group for selecting it for a group read. Cisneros is a poet who is not as well known on this side of the Atlantic.

Those who like to understand every word of a novel will find this a frustrating reading experience if, like me, they have never been taught Spanish. The text, particularly the sections set in Mexico, is liberally sprinkled with Spanish and Mexican dialect words and ph
Debbie Zapata
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: set-in-mexico
Although at times I got a little lost in the different threads involved in this story, overall I loved reading about the Reyes family and their summer visits to the narrator's grandmother's house in Mexico City.

The Awful Grandmother, she is called. Why? Eventually, in the middle part of the book, we learn the answers to that question, and I for one had much more sympathy for her after that. Slowly, over the course of the entire book, we see our narrator growing up, learning who she is and who s
“Like all chronic mitoteros, [a word that might mean something like a nosy person—delving into others’ business] los Reyes invented a past, reminding everyone that their ancestors had been accustomed to eating oysters with mother-of-pearl forks on porcelain plates brought over on the Manila galleons. It was a pretty story and told with such fine attention to detail, neighbors who knew better said nothing, charmed by the rococo embroidery that came to be a Reyes talent.”

Cisneros has given us an e
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 05, 2007 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
Jul 20, 2015 rated it 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
Feb 23, 2013 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
May 13, 2008 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
Jan 31, 2008 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
Nov 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
Stephanie (That's What She Read)
I loved this book. There were so many parts of this book that I really connected to. She just really captured so many little mannerisms and quirks that I see in my own abuela, like the small superstitions that are sprinkled into everything. "Don't put your purse on the floor! It's bad luck!" I also loved how the dialogue was written as a literal translation from Spanish into English, "I have sleepy," and the Spanish terms of endearment like My Sky, My Queen, My Life. There was just so much a
May 01, 2011 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
Cecilia Soriano
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love Sandra Cisneros. And this family narrative is another reason why she is one of my favorite authors.

Exploring the untold stories of the familia Reyes, she takes the reader on a journey that is intertwined with stories that are fictional and real. Stories that remind you of a folklore that can only be told by grandparent and great grandparents; the magical realism that exist in the pueblos of Mexico that tries to make sense of wars, conquest and religion. And that in making sense of what i
Mar 28, 2015 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
Jun 09, 2015 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 10, 2007 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
Olivia Maldonado
This was a book my mom loved and recommended it to me. Unfortunately, I struggled through it. I feel I didn’t appreciate the writing and experiences shared the way they should have been. Maybe because I’m second generation and could not relate my life experiences to this story the way my mom or her mom could.
Dec 30, 2009 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
Sep 03, 2014 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
Kali Piontek
Feb 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
The story itself was interesting & I enjoyed learning about the family & history of the characters in the book. That said I felt it dragged on & could have been shortened. The writing style was also somewhat hard to follow at times as well as all of the different nicknames that every person in the book had. It got to be confusing throughout the book trying to keep track of which character the storyteller was talking about.
Aug 06, 2010 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Laurie Notaro
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Apr 21, 2014 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.
Jill Lucht
May 22, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I only made it to page 67. As other reviewers have mentioned, this book is probably excellent for people who are fluent in Spanish and English. I missed a lot of the story and underlying meaning due to my nonexistent Spanish skills. Yet again, I wish I had studied Spanish!
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Cisneros earlier writing--the vignettes--were wonderful because they left so much to the imagination. This novel is far more complex in plot and in characterization. This is the first time I remember Cisneros using magic realism. Good use. Effective.
The main character'set parents were young during WWII, making this story set in in the 1960s. Yet the experience remains similar to mine in the 1980s. Maybe the young woman was ahead of her time? Or maybe like many of Cisneros' characters, she is any
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels, favorites
This book is a whirlwind, but in a really good way. It feels so real and authentic and I seriously ugly cried at some parts.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did, going in. Halfway through it felt very much like the earlier works of Isabel Allende. It went on a bit too long for me, though, and I disliked the ending--that neat little package, the message that "family is always family." Because so often it isn't. But that's just my experience vs that of the author.
Good use of language, though as a translator myself I did wonder why she mis-translated so many phrases so they don't mean in English quite wh
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This story made me reflect on the meaning of an family in a whole different way. An invaluable immigrant story. Incredible.
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
21st Century Lite...: Caramelo - General Discussion (no spoilers) (May 2019) 26 36 Jun 05, 2019 04:56PM  
21st Century Lite...: Caramelo - Part 3 & Whole Book (May 2019) 24 24 May 29, 2019 11:11AM  
21st Century Lite...: Caramelo - Part 2 (May 2019) 13 21 May 27, 2019 07:29PM  
21st Century Lite...: Caramelo - Part I (May 2019) 13 30 May 16, 2019 05:56AM  
Schumpp, EII Hono...: Caramelo 1 1 Apr 29, 2014 08:39AM  
Spanish language entries in Caramelo 2 49 Feb 17, 2010 05:19AM  

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Sandra Cisneros is internationally acclaimed for her poetry and fiction and 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 stories, Woman Hollering Cre

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