“Ali’s first-person colloquial narrative is “totally” with it. But there’s also a real story here, with frenetic action, romance (including some hot sex), pop-scene fantasy, and surprises to the very end. What shines through in Cuban American writer Ferrer’s first novel (part of the MTV Fiction series), though, is the rich diversity of Latino culture, and the celebration of music and its universal connections.” Hazel Rochman, Booklist. It’s Not About the Accent: When Caroline Darcy heads off to college, the theater major from small-town Ohio dyes her hair from “blah, beige blonde hair” to “Havana Brown” and pretends she is half-Cuban never mind that her Cuban connection comes entirely via her late great-grandmother, the dashing Nana Ellie. Caro sprinkles Spanish into her speech, wears tighter clothes and enjoys the attention she gets from being “exotic,” even starting a relationship with smooth fraternity boy Erik. The plot takes a jarring turn when one of Erik’s friends rapes Caro in her dorm room, despite the efforts of her Cuban friend from across the hall, Peter, to save her. Retuning to school in the fall, Caro stops pretending to be Carolina, but decides to research Nana Ellie’s family, which alters the direction of the story. Readers may grow frustrated wondering where Ferrer (Advice to My Old Life) is going next, besides building to the inevitable romance between Caro and Peter. But the book achieves a real richness: Caro not only learns unexpected secrets about Nana Ellie, but hears many revealing life stories. The elderly Cuban women who talk about their journeys prove especially moving. In the end, this twisting book amply rewards readers. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)
About Caridad Ferrer: Caridad Ferrer is a first generation, bilingual Cuban-American, born in Manhattan and raised in Miami, all of which she realizes makes her a walking cliche. However, it also means she speaks Spanish reasonably fluently, at least enough to be able to employ some of the more colorful expressions in her writing. Like most good little Cuban girls, she began piano lessons at the age of five, summoned for command performances at family holiday parties wearing ruffles and that season’s shiny patent-leather shoes. Rather than scarring her for life, it sparked in her a lifelong love of music that remains to this day and is highly influential in her writing. Her novel, “Advice to My Old Life” was released by MTV Books in 2006, garnering praise such as “A page-turning must-read,” and “an intelligent debut novel about the world of music and reality television.” Her second novel for MTV Books, “It’s Not About the Accent” was released in August 2007. “Advice to My Old Life” has Won the Rita!!