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

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  776 Ratings  ·  77 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 ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 12th 2000 by Anchor (first published 1999)
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Dec 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: latin, chicago
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
Nov 08, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 21, 2011 added it
I really, really disliked this book. The writing style was self-indulgent, and the plot too postmodern for my tastes.
Aug 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.
Jan 10, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Rebecca Marshall
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a compelling story with an intriguing main character. When I think of flamenco dancing, I think of strength and passion and vigor. Somehow Castillo puts all of that into her writing here and, yet, fittingly, leaves it a little bit flawed. The development and growth of the main character was not perfect but felt real and relatable. The prose and pacing is beautiful, but don't expect it to read like a contemporary American novel.
Jun 08, 2017 rated it liked it
I started this book a couple of times but it took awhile for me to really get into the story. The flamenco/gypsy aspect is interesting but the story was confusing for me.
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was different. I don't agree with Carmen's decision in the end.
pani Katarzyna
I am pretty familiar with Ana Castillo's writing. I have read both "So Far from God" and "The Mixquiahuala Letters" - my GoodReads claims - and I also gave 4 stars to both of them. Hmm. The problem is: I do not remember either of them. Blank brain pages is what I see when I try to conjure up anything about both books. And that is WHY I recently started writing reviews, so I can remember a little better what I spend hours and hours of my life on.

Anyway. The main character in "Peel my Love Like an
Connect-ion Found
Oct 18, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Oct 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this book after hearing Ana Castillo read some of it aloud at a Free Library of Philadelphia event (well, I heard it on a podcast, many years later), mixed with some stories she told about living in her mother's basement during a hot summer while she wrote it.
All the characters, even those that only appear for a few pages, feel real to me, in the sense that I can picture Castillo picturing them in and around her Chicago neighborhood, commuting to work and walking in the evening to buy gr
Nov 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jan 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Melissa Lee-Tammeus
Oct 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
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
Sep 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 04, 2016 rated it liked it
This strikes me as the sort of book that I can find completely entertaining in the moment -- the observations, the hilarious asides, the improbable existence of a handicapped Mexican flamenco dancer from Chicago all lend themselves to this -- but I don't know if this book will stick with me for very long after I have finished it. Still, it was an enjoyable read, and at base, the story of a woman held captive by family and by circumstances, who still dreams of a broader, more romantic world, is i ...more
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013, other-fiction
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.
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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? :-)
May 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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.
Jun 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Just listened to the audiobook version of this book in Spanish. So worth the reread and loved to hear it in Spanish, especially the lovers' gitano dialects. I remember loving reading about Carmen's relationship to dance that connects her to her partially paralyzed body and is so much deeper than the physical. The book has even more meaning to me as dancer with more years on the planet and an continuously changing relationship to my evolving body.
May 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
I rate a book by personal feelings and not on the writing or anything else. I did not care for this book because I did not like the lifestyle of the main character. I didn't like her relationships with the men in her life or even her family. She felt to me to be of a lower class socially and it didn't interest me the circles of people she blended with.
Freya Lustie-Kniser
Nov 03, 2009 rated it liked it
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...
Jul 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 24, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lozano-book-club
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.
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: would-read-again
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.
Dec 31, 2014 rated it liked it
I couldn't decide how well I liked this book - 3 or 4 stars. I liked Carmen and was fascinated by her experiences with overcoming her disability. But the best part was the skillful weaving of the love of Flamenco intertwined with the 2 gypsies.
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.
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Ana Castillo (June 15, 1953-) is a celebrated and distinguished poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, editor, playwright, translator and independent scholar. Castillo was born and raised in Chicago. She has contributed to periodicals and on-line venues (Salon and Oxygen) and national magazines, including More and the Sunday New York Times. Castillo’s writings have been the subject of numer ...more
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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.” 22 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.”
More quotes…