Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole 2008
IQ "He smiles. 'You're not gay right?'"
"I move away from him and twirl around him twice. I think about it for a minute, then say 'Right'. I guess it's just a matter of semantics. if he had asked, 'You've never been in love with a girl, right?' then that would be a different story."
I am a failure. I failed to see what I was missing out on by not reading about GLBTQ teens. I'm going to be completely honest, before I started reading Down to the Bone I didn't know if I could read this book without being uneasy. I felt almost hypocritical because ask me Do you believe in gay marriage? And I would say absolutely! You should be able to fall in love and marry whoever you want. But I didn't know if I could actually read a book about gay people. I hope no one takes offense to this, I'm trying to be honest and admit how wrong I was in thinking that. I didn't know if I could handle in a mature way, reading about girls kissing girls and being in love with each other. Could I relate, even though I'm straight? Well, the answer is YES! In reading Down to the Bone, I realized that the main character Laura (who is lesbian) felt the same way about being in love as so many other people (including myself). She went through the same feelings of her first love as anyone else; the happy, giddy, crazy in love feelings. And when her girlfriend of two years was forced to go home to Puerto Rico and get married, I felt SO BAD for her. It's the exact same as (for a straight person) dating someone for two years and then they leave the country and marry someone else. How do you feel? Heartbroken. Regardless of your sexual orientation. Why do I share this with my readers? Because I don't want anyone to not pick up this wonderfully honest, funny, amazing book simply because they don't want to read about same sex love. Don't allow yourself to miss out on a great book.
Laura is a great character. I love her environmentalist, girl-power qualities. "'True equality will happen when straight guys start dressing like and acting like girls.' I point to the guys. 'Girls picked up all your bad habits-like drinking, smoking, hooking up with everybody, going to the gym to get muscles, wearing suits and ties to work-just to be equal. It's cool for butches, kings and bois to dress like guys, cuz that's how they really feel. But for real equality you guys have got to start dressing in skirts and heels and putting on makeup.'" This idea of true equality had never occur ed to me. It was really interesting to think about. She's funny, but she did tell a few too many lies for my taste, lies that were pointless. I also didn't really understand why she didn't think she was lesbian. However, that just made the book even more interesting and I couldn't put it down.
Soli is Laura's awesome best friend. I think she should truly go down in the history books as one of the Greatest Best Friends of all time. She was always there for Laura, and this was especially true when Laura's mom kicked her out and Soli (and her mom) took her in. This may seem like no big deal, but (from what I gathered in the book), it is a huge deal for a Cuban mom and daughter to accept a Cuban girl as lesbian and love her anyway. Soli is wacky and cool. She's straight, but goes through so many quick relationships. Her and Laura's arguments are temporary and they always cheer each other up. It's a beautiful friendship.
Laura's mom made me so mad. How can any mother kick their child out of their house simply because she isn't in love with the 'right' gender? The scene where Laura is kicked out is so sad, especially when Laura gets on her knees and begs her not to kick her out. Laura's brother Pedri really wants his sister to stay. Laura and Pedri have such a sweet relationship, they are really close and loving. They don't have one of those always-fighting-couldn't-care-less-about-them-sibling relationships and it's refreshing to read about.
Down to the Bone also gave me a detailed glimpse of the Cuban community. It showed the good and the not-so-good. The Cuban mother and almost the whole Cuban community viewed being GLBTQ as something crazy and shameful. I don't think this negative attitude applies only to the Cuban community, it's the same way in many other immigrant communities and conservative towns (I say this based on polls and personal experiences). The good was the food, the Spanish language (specifically Cuban expressions) and the people. The strong sense of love and community. The food sounded (and is, I've had most of it) delicious (frijoles, flan jugo de melocoton, cafe con leche, carne asada, pastelitos and so much more!). Also Miami sounds like such a fun and vibrant place to live in. I loved the descriptions of the clubs, beaches and shops (I believe they are fictional but they are most likely based off of real places).
I loved Down to the Bone and I finished it with the full intent of reading more YA GLBTQ books. 8th grade and up (not very graphic, the sex scenes are brief, and not very detailed).
-Thanks so much for donating a copy to my giveaway Mayra!
Also, remember to enter my Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month giveaway. You could win this book!