American Chica by Marie Arana
Two Worlds, One Childhood

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Synopsis

In her father’s Peruvian family, Marie Arana was taught to be a proper lady, yet in her mother’s American family she learned to shoot a gun, break a horse, and snap a chicken’s neck for dinner. Arana shuttled easily between these deeply separate cultures for years. But only when she immigrated with her family to the United States did she come to understand that she was a hybrid American whose cultural identity was split in half. Coming to terms with this split is at the heart of this graceful, beautifully realized portrait of a child who “was a north-south collision, a New World fusion. An American Chica.”

Here are two vastly different landscapes: Peru—earthquake-prone, charged with ghosts of history and mythology—and the sprawling prairie lands of Wyoming. In these rich terrains resides a colorful cast of family members who bring Arana’s historia to life...her proud grandfather who one day simply stopped coming down the stairs; her dazzling grandmother, “clicking through the house as if she were making her way onstage.” But most important are Arana’s parents: he a brilliant engineer, she a gifted musician. For more than half a century these two passionate, strong-willed people struggled to overcome the bicultural tensions in their marriage and, finally, to prevail.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Marie Arana

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Marie Arana was born in Lima, Peru. She is the author of the memoir American Chica, a finalist for the National Book Award; two novels, Cellophane and Lima Nights; and The Writing Life, a collection from her well-known column for The Washington Post. She lives in Washington, DC, and Lima, Peru.
 
Published July 6, 2011 by The Dial Press. 322 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Arana, daughter of a Peruvian father and an American mother, sees herself as a hybrid, a fusion of Latina and Anglo, embodying both cultures but an outsider in each.

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Publishers Weekly

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Though this memoir of growing up in America and Peru centers on Arana's parents' turbulent marriage, her real focus is the way cultures define, limit and enrich us.

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Entertainment Weekly

Arana, the child of a Peruvian father and an American mother, lived in Peru before moving to Summit, New Jersey, at the age of 10.

May 11 2001 | Read Full Review of American Chica: Two Worlds, O...

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Oct 11 2013 | Read Full Review of American Chica: Two Worlds, O...

Curtis Brown

From her father's genteel Peruvian family, Marie Arana was taught to be a proper lady, yet from her mother's American family she learned to shoot a gun, break a horse, and snap a chicken's neck for dinner.

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