Monthly Archives: June 2009

Mexican High

mexicanhigh Mexican High is Liza Monroy’s debut novel about a girl named Milagro. We meet Milagro as she finds out that, yet again, her single mother who is a U.S. diplomat, is moving her to another country just as she’s gotten comfortable. This move is even worse than the ones before since Milagro, (or “Mila”), is starting her senior year of high school and won’t even get to graduate with her friends.

Because the government pays for her education, Milagro ends up attending a $40,000 a year international prep school in Mexico City. Most of her classmates are the snobby children of the wealthiest and most powerful families in the country and they don’t let just anyone into their clique. Milagro faces the typical teenage challenges of trying to fit in, finding her own identity, and boys in addition to the lure of easily obtained drugs and alcohol and learning a new language.

An additional sub plot involves the fact that Milagro has long known that her estranged father is a powerful Mexican politician, and though her mother has always refused to reveal his identity, Milagro is determined to find him.

The author, herself once a student at the international school in Mexico City, began this book as a memoir but seventy-five pages in, she decided to re-write it as a work of fiction. Monroy says, “Many of the stories-within-the-story of things Milagro says, does, and experiences range from “precisely what happened” to “deeply rooted in fact” to “loosely based on truth.””

Mexican High is an interesting look into Mexico City culture and Milagro’s transformation through her final year of high school, though more exciting than what most of us experienced, is something anyone can relate to.

Now available in paperback.


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Burn This Book

The following reprinted with permission:

Burn This Book
PEN Writers Speak Out on the Power of the World
Edited by Toni Morrison

BURN THIS BOOK was born out of a speech last April that Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison gave at the PEN International Festival dinner. Morrison observed that night, “A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity.” As she paid tribute to the difficulties and challenges writers face in many parts of the world, she also reflected on the steep price we all pay when voices are silenced. This powerful, incantatory talk sparked a notion for a book of essays that would explore the issue and impact of censorship in the world.

Published in conjunction with the PEN American Center, Toni Morrison’s speech now opens this collection of extraordinary voices from around the world: John Updike (in one of his final pieces), David Grossman, Francine Prose, Pico Iyer, Russell Banks, Paul Auster, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, Ed Park, and Nadine Gordimer. The writers represent Nobel and other prize winners and they include writers who have had first-hand experience of censorship and its consequences.

Why protect free speech? What is the power of the word? The approaches they all take to these questions are as varied as their works of literature. Here, the personal and the political mingle and collide; philosophical reflection is partnered with the conundrums of experience. Across the pages there is a rush of ideas, emotions and perspectives that disallow assumptions to stand or acquiesce to any force, whether external or internal.

About the Editor:
Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. She is the author of many novels, including, Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved, and most recently, A Mercy. She has also received the national Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize for her fiction.

About PEN:
PEN is the leading voice for literature and a major force for free expression and the unhampered exchange of ideas and opinions worldwide. Founded in 1921, it is the world’s oldest ongoing human rights organization, and it currently has 144 PEN centers in 102 countries dedicated to protecting the right of all humanity to create and communicate freely. By mobilizing the world’s most influential literary voiced and an international network of writers, readers, and human rights supporters, PEN makes a difference every day in the lives of writers who are facing persecution around the world. For more information about PEN, visit

For more information please visit

Defend your right to read (and write!) Sign the anti-censorship petition here.

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The Lie

thelieThe Lie by Fredrica Wagman is a story set in the 1950’s about a young woman named Ramona who is obsessed with the famous actress and sex symbol,  Rita Hayworth.

Ramona comes from an abusive home and shortly after her father’s death, she meets and marries a man she doesn’t truly love  in an attempt at a new life. Ramona finds her married life plagued by suspicions of infidelity and is constantly haunted by low self esteem as she compares herself to Rita Hayworth and always comes up short.

I found the plot and message of this book unique and intriguing but its execution was frustrating as the author took great liberties with the use of ellipses and em-dashes.

By the end of the short, (214 page), novel, I understood why the writing was frantic and at times repetitive, since the book is written from Ramona’s perspective and mentally, she’s kind of losing it, but I would have enjoyed the book more had the writing style been revised.

Over all, I think readers will relate to Ramona as her problem is replayed in today’s culture of celebrity worship and the consequent self esteem issues many women face.

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The world is a beautiful book

I got this in a fortune cookie the other day:



Filed under books, food, positive thinking

Obama’s Blackberry

Obama’s Blackberry by Kasper Hauser is a hilarious quick read that gives us an inside look at what our President’s messages going back and forth might look like.

The authors have everyone’s personalities pegged and President Obama’s (ficticious) messages back and forth with Hillary, Bill, Michelle, Biden, Bush, his daughters and various world leaders, staff and celebrities will have you laughing out loud. The usernames alone are worth it.

This is definitely one of the funniest things I’ve read this year.

BidenMyTime: Hey U, whatcha doin?
BARACKO: M rly busy
BidenMyTime: Right :( Can I lv at 4:45?


Filed under books, humor, opinion, politics