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The Meaning of Consuelo

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  755 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The Signe family is blessed with two daughters. Consuelo, the elder, is thought of as pensive and book-loving, the serious child-la niña seria-while Mili, her younger sister, is seen as vivacious, a ray of tropical sunshine. Two daughters: one dark, one light; one to offer comfort and consolation, the other to charm and delight. But, for all the joy both girls should bring ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published March 30th 2004 by Beacon Press (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
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 ·  755 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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May 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. Judith Ortiz Cofer captured the voice and thoughts of a young girl and then a young woman, coming of age, grappling with the responsibilities of having to meet tragedy head on. I liked the "realness" of their family life and also, how Puerto Rico was depicted. Well done culturally and language wise.
Kristen Scelonge
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Grade/Interest Level: Middle School (Grades 6-8)
Reading Level: no Lexile Level available
Genre: Multicultural Literature

Main Characters:Consuelo and Mili (sisters)
Setting:Puerto Rico and the United States of America

This story is centered around is the Signe family who are Puerto Rican and have two daughters named Consuelo and Mili. The two daughters are polar opposites. Consuelo, the older daughter is thought of to be a book worm, consistently in deep serious thought, and more intelli
Sep 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: recently-read
This novel is set in Puerto Rico, & the island itself functions as a character, with its uneasy relationship with the United States. The story of Consuelo's family, & the tragedia that builds up at its core, could even be read as a sort of allegory of Puerto Rico.

I'm not quite satisfied with the story's ending; I won't provide any spoilers, but Consuelo's individuation seems to be undertaken at a very high cost that is not taken seriously enough. Unless indeed the book is read as a tragic allego
Sheryl Sorrentino
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer is both a stunning tribute to the island of Puerto Rico (and something of an indictment of U.S. development and its negative impact on the island’s culture and natural splendor) and a deeply affecting story of one family’s heartbreaking misfortune (the mental instability suffered by the family’s beautiful younger daughter, Mili). The story is told by Mili’s older sister, Consuelo, who is charged with keeping an eye on her sibling from the time they a ...more
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Feb 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful story of one Puerto Rican girl's story that resembled my own and differed so greatly. Cofer is a great storyteller and she reminds the reader that "to try to understand your story you have to read it backward, each scene examined from the end to the beginning for there to be any sense of narrative. The plot is the last thing you invent" (p180).
Dec 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Once I started I couldn't put it down. I just had to find out what would happen next. The story is interesting and unique.
Wendy Cotta
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
The themes of this book are raw: coming of age, mental illness, treatment of sexual difference in a traditional Puerto RIcan culture, and betrayal. The main character is a young Puerto Rican girl living on the island who struggles with a family that is falling apart. There are some beautiful moments when the protagonist's voice shares incredible wisdom and insight, but the voice is fragmented and inconsistent, testing the reader's belief in her credibility. There is much angst here and young rea ...more
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wonderful coming of age story about a girl straddling two worlds. Have long wanted to read Ortiz Cofer's books, and am very sad that we've recently lost her.
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Really enjoyed—read in one sitting!
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Coming of age novel set in puerto rico,
what is expected of "good people" and male behavior vs female behavior.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recently the author Judith Ortiz Cofer passed away. I had long had one of her books tucked away among the many novels I seem to accumulate; always planning to read. Her passing finally led me to search through this ever growing pile. What a great book. The main character details her life as she leaves childhood behind, her family behind, and her island behind. It is a story that details the pain of family secrets and the process of change. The book was bittersweet, and made me regret not being i ...more
Vamos a Leer
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In reflecting on The Meaning of Consuelo, Julia Alvarez expresses what one finds at the heart of the book that makes it both beautiful and sad at the same time: “A bittersweet tale of the price one pays to re-invent the story handed down by one’s antepasados and familia. Consuelo is both herself and every mujer, and her story her own and that of her island, torn between self-discovery and safety.”
It’s not a light read. How could it be? From the very first chapter, we realize that what follows i
Feb 09, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason, I thought this book sounded like Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson, and I suppose there are similarities in the relationship between the two sisters. There's even mention of Jergens lotion in both books, weirdly enough. This book, however, delves into female identity across generations more than between siblings and provides an interesting look at gender roles in Puerto Rican culture.

I'm not sold on it as YA, though, since this is more of a look back on youth by an older
Consuelo is a serious, contemplative 14-year-old girl who observes her family slowly crumbling as tragedia looms. Her father is a typical macho with women on the side. Her mother is una sufrida, the suffering wife with her cross to bear. Mami clings to the island and its traditional culture but Papi prefers the progress and new inventiveness that America is bringing to Puerto Rico. Consuelo's little sister Mili is the lively, social one of the family. But as she grows older she begins speaking t ...more
Dec 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 420-shelf
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Rating: ****
Bookshelves: ENGL 420
Status: Read in September
Cofer tells the story of Consuelo, a Puerto Rican fifteen-year-old girl trying to discover the meaning of her life and relationships in 1950s Puerto Rico. Consuelo feels torn at home: her father encourages modern American living while her mother defends traditional Puerto Rican culture and her baby sister develops into a mentally challenged and emotionally unstable young girl. Consuelo
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Meaning of Consuelo transcended from being just the name given by her parents, with the meaning it was with to all the meaning she's acquired from the whole timeline the story. The meaning of Consuelo began with just being 'to console' which was an inevitable role that Consuelo had to take for her mother, to being Consuelo the girl who will take no beatings from the world she grew up in. All her experiences made Consuelo who she is, and it led to a great character development.

Also, other cha
Oct 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
"The Meaning of Consuelo" is a heartening coming of age story about the joys and "tragedia" faced by Consuelo and her family. Although it is a work of fiction, it reads more like a memoir, narrated by the main character, Consuelo Signe. Consuelo, true to the meaning of her name, is the consoling daughter. She is smart, serious, responsible, and, for all those qualities "el fulana" (and outsider). She is a reliable voice, carefully relating the "cuentos" (stories) of her family amid the beauty an ...more
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grad-class
I read this in the Fall for my Latino kid/YA class, and ended up writing my final paper on it, which was then accepted for a conference, so I guess I was able to convincingly muster up enough enthusiasm for it. It is a difficult read at times because of the nature of the plot, but I appreciated its honesty and realism. It pushes some boundaries for the YA genre (without being inappropriate), but I would recommend it to anyone looking to add some female characters or multicultural authors/stories ...more
Nov 08, 2012 rated it liked it
A young Puerto Rican girl, Consuelo, tells stories about her family and neighborhood and about taking care of her outgoing younger sister. Her best friend is her oddball male cousin who moves to New York City with his father. While her whole family focuses on her adulterous father and socially stunted sister, Consuelo falls between the cracks. I felt heartbroken for Consuelo and frustrated with her distracted parents and cruel classmates. It was well written and interesting, but not one that wil ...more
Briana (TheBookBuddies)
Actual Rating: 2.5

Although, this book wasn't my usual cup of tea it was very interesting. It gave an interesting perspective and narrative of the Puerto Rican culture from a girl who's desperate to become a woman in her family, but at the same time be someone more than what her family expects of her. The book is truly a coming of age story and it was interesting to see Consuelo's life progress in the timeline of the degradation of her sister's mind/family's life. Also, I love how sassy she got a
Mar 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this book for my mid-term paper and I was just blown away. Judith Ortiz Cofer did an amazing job with this book. I really enjoyed this novel and I was extremely touched by Consuelo’s perseverance. A must read.
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Super quick read, classic coming of age story in which generations conflict in the face of societal changes. I felt the story skimmed the surface of these characters lives. I could have felt more sympathy for Consuelo but wasn't really moved.
Aug 01, 2013 rated it liked it
I like the idea of this novel, and the novel when I look at it as a whole. However, the use of LGBTQ issues and mental health issues as props in the protagonist's story rubbed me the wrong way and kept me from enjoying it entirely.
Dec 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book hit too close to home on so many levels. The elements of the sufreida is a classic heroine tale among Puerto Rican women. The book was such a great read and made me homesick.
Dec 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
it helped me understand my puerto rican culture a bit more. and it described the typical puerto rican life
Doodi Al
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
I am very disappointed with this book. The story line did not have much substance. It is cleverly written but that is about it. Do not expect more of the book.
Jul 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
Slow moving coming of age story that was not very interesting. Saw little relationship between the sisters or between her and her friends.
Aimee Mansfield
Oct 02, 2013 rated it liked it
It's interesting as far as showing the Puerto Rican culture, but too slow-paced and some frustrating characters.
Mar 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book is not really poorly written, but I just didn't care for it. Too many disconnected descriptions and not enough connection to the narrator, Consuelo. She just never seemed real to me.
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Judith Ortiz Cofer (born in 1952) is a Puerto Rican author. Her work spans a range of literary genres including poetry, short stories, autobiography, essays, and young-adult fiction.

Judith Ortiz Cofer was born in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, on February 24, 1952. She moved to Paterson, New Jersey with her family in 1956. They often made back-and-forth trips between Paterson and Hormigueros. In 1967,

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