The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
A Novel (Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature. Winner (Awards))

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Synopsis

La nina seria, the serious child. That's how Consuelo's mother has cast her pensive, book-loving daughter, while Consuelo's younger sister Mili, is seen as vivacious--a ray of tropical sunshine. Two daughters: one dark, one light; one to offer comfort and consolation, the other to charm and delight. But something is not right in this Puerto Rican family.

Set in the 1950s, a time when American influence is diluting Puerto Rico's rich island culture, Consuelo watches her own family's downward spiral. It is Consuelo who notices as her beautiful sister Mili's vivaciousness turns into mysterious bouts of hysteria and her playful invented language shift into an incomprehensible and chilling "language of birds." Ultimately Consuelo must choose: Will she fulfill the expectations of her family--offering consolation as their tragedy unfolds? Or will she risk becoming la fulana, the outsider, like the harlequin figure of her neighbor, Mario/Maria Sereno, who flaunts his tight red pedal pushers and empty brassiere as he refuses the traditional macho role of his culture.

This affecting novel is a lively celebration of Puerto Rico as well as an archetypal story of loss, the loss each of us experiences on our journey from the island of childhood to the uncharted territory of adulthood.

 

About Judith Ortiz Cofer

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Judith Ortiz Cofer is a native of Puerto Rico. She is a poet, essayist, and novelist whose most recent book for young readers is Call Me Maria: A Novel in Letters, Poems, and Prose. She is the Regents and Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.
 
Published November 7, 2003 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 205 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Young Adult, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences. Fiction

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Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $22 (224p) ISBN 0-374-20509-4Puerto Rican novelist, essayist and poet Cofer (The Latin Deli, etc.) chronicles the childhood and young adulthood of Consuelo, a bookish girl growing up in a San Juan suburb in the 1950s.

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