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Trade Reviews

  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* After being expelled from her Catholic school for being lesbian, Lauri, 17, is thrown out by her Cuban mom for being abnormal. Worst of all, Lauri's beloved partner, Marlena, leaves and does her family's bidding by marrying a man. Lauri gets a job and finds a home with her straight, black friend, Soli, and she begins to wonder if she can fall in love with a guy and regain her family and acceptance. At the same time she has her own prejudices to overcome. The dialogue is fast and funny in this debut novel, which is set in Miami's Cuban American community. Laura's first-person, present-tense narrative shows and tells the farce and the sorrow at home, and teens will recognize some of the traditional prejudices, as well as the joy of friendship and the happiness of real love (my smile barely fits in my face). Supportive precisely because it is laugh-out-loud irreverent (in one hilarious scene Laura and Soli mock their tacky quinces with their pink-ruffled gowns), this breakthrough novel is sure to be welcomed.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2008 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

A passionate girl loses her first love but finds community and self in this flashy debut with awkward prose but lots of heart. Laura and Marlena have been fervently in love for two years when a caricatured sadistic nun nabs a love letter and reads it aloud. Instantly expelled from school and home, Laura stays with friends and works full-time landscaping. Things are okay until Marlena, sent unwillingly back to Puerto Rico, marries a boy and redefines her long relationship with Laura as "sinful." Briefly faking (and attempting) heterosexuality to win back Mami's love and access to her little brother, Laura slowly admits she's a lesbian. Her chosen new family includes a sexually liberated best friend and a genderqueer boi. Miami is the lushly portrayed setting for this Cuban community. Dole's writing is frequently syrupy, unwieldy or exaggerated (too much laughing "hysterically"); however, it also encompasses humor and love for Cuban culture that run deeper than the enjoyable outrageousness of, for example, a pi¿ata full of "chocolate saints and teeny chocolate dicks." (glossary) (Fiction. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Here's what it means to be a tortillera. It means you're a girl who loves girls. Which means you get kicked out of Catholic school faster than Mother Superior Sicko can say "immoral." Which means your wacko Mami finds out. Which means you're kicked to the curb with nowhere to go, and the love of your life is shipped off to Puerto Rico to marry a guy. But this is Miami, and if you have a bighearted best friend and a loyal puppy at your side, and if your broken heart is still full of love, you just might land on your feet. In a first novel as crazy, joyful, hilarious, and painful as your first love, Mayra Lazara Dole goes beyond the many meanings of tortillera to paint a vivid picture of a girl who gets kicked out of home only to find a new kind of family.
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