A more intimate, focused follow-up to Cofer's well-received An Island Like You (1995). Separated by short, meditative poems, all but one of these nine stories sketch fond, ironic views of life in a New Jersey barrio as they chronicle a teenager's emergent understanding of her parents and the awakening of her sexuality in the mid-1960s. The exception is a folktale-like story of a wise young Puerto Rican woman who prefers to win a bandit over rather than kill him; the rest are first-person accounts, set in either Puerto Rico or Paterson, New Jersey. These include quiet battles with parents over clothes, friends, and behavior; memories of that first kiss and of intense but unsatisfying encounters with men, one a Vietnam War vet made impotent by a mine, the other a self-absorbed schoolmate strung out on mind-altering drugs. Although the narrator's identity sometimes changes--e.g., in the pivotal title story, narrative duties are shared by Mary Ellen and her mother, Mar'a Elena--Cofer's candid voice does not, and the poems and incidents, otherwise fragmentary, are strongly linked by that consistency.