Friday, May 7, 2010

The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer

First off, my apologies already for this review. Last weekend, in a cold induced frenzy, I read for hours on end. I barely left the couch. In fact, I think I only left the couch to lazily reach for the next book on my list.

Okay. I'm exaggerating, people, but let me have those simple pleasures. :)

The reason for this disclaimer lies in the fact that it has been almost a week since I've finished the book. And yet I still have my three points.

1. What a smart book! This book details a childhood and reads almost as a justification of sorts, a confessional novel if you will. (Think Their Eyes Were Watching God without the adulthood, marriages, and dialect. Hm. Sounds like a completely different book then.) This book is "smart" in that I think a sophisticated young adult reader would adore it, recognize the important literary significance contained within the pages. The main character is a child, and the path she takes allows for us to understand the supposed adult she becomes, though that period of time rests in our imagination. This would make a phenomenal read for a mature high schooler trying to make sense of his or her world and place within it, for often that place is understood through place in family dynamic. Yet it also encourages change and individuality, that we are not predisposed to becoming one person or another without any free will. Kudos there.

2. Culture novels make me swoon. Novels that mix cultures and have our characters, and by extension readers, dissect culture and its affect on us are true gems in the literary world, perhaps today more than ever. What young person doesn't need to understand background both within and without family? Not one, I say!

3. Tragedia. I became engrossed in understanding the unfolding tragedia, and often wondered if I had already been "in" it so to speak. I believe this was Judith Ortiz Cofer's intent, though who am I to say? For a few hours I became Consuelo, and understood that the mood of this work was the tragedia, perhaps, that these little events all formed a larger picture and backdrop to make us feel, viscerally, the life of Consuelo, and that perhaps if one event were to come it became almost inconsequential because it had been with us all along.

Wow. I feel serious even after writing this. Definitely not a book to read if you want giggles or romance or guilty pleasure. This is a book to treasure if you feel like feeling. That, in my humble opinion, makes a stellar book.

Cofer is on my list of writers I love. Today at least. ;)


  1. Hi,

    I found your blog through the hop. This does sound like an interesting read. I enjoy the diversity of YA novels.

  2. It really is...I strongly recommend it, and I agree about the diversity of YA. For a long time I think I was reading YA that wasn't particularly good so I dismissed the whole genre. Thank goodness I found some good ones!