PLAYING WITH BOYS by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez


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God has nothing on Valdes-Rodriguez—she created her first novel in a mere six days!

Touted as the Hispanic counterpart to Terry McMillan by handlers eager to cash in on demographics! Proud possessor of a legendary temper and deeply resentful of ethnic stereotypes that nonetheless made her a fortune! (The Dirty Girls Social Club, 2003, made the New York Times bestseller list and was optioned by Jennifer Lopez’s production company!) Now comes Valdes-Rodriguez’s second, set in Los Angeles, where Dallas-born Alexis manages a popular Mexican band called Los Chimpances del Norte and dreams of bigger things. Marcella, half-Dominican, half-French, and raised in Santa Barbara, is a gorgeous actress tired of playing whores and maids and still hoping for her big break. Olivia Flores, survivor of a childhood Salvadoran death-squad attack, lives in the racially mixed neighborhood of Echo Park and wonders whether she’s raising her young son right. Her philandering husband seems to have lost interest, perhaps thanks to Olivia’s dowdy appearance and Frida Kahlo–esque intensity. Burning question: Will Hollywood ever buy Olivia’s dramatic screenplay about El Salvador? Hell, no. Alexis has no luck convincing the powerful pinheads who rule movieland, but Marcella scratches up the cash to get the script produced via a financial connection with her creepy, child-porn-loving uncle—and chica, everything changes in a few implausible seconds. Looks like the threesome has the world on a string at last—but tragedy awaits! Alexis’s true love, Goyo, a Cuban-born music star, is shot! The culprit: a disgruntled journalist dumped by Alexis earlier in the story. Despite his whitey-white name and skin, Daniel Mehegan is a ridiculous wannabe who affects gangsta-pimp-hip-hop-star ways and walks while he cooks up a bogus tale of drug smuggling that implicates Alexis. Happy ending, though.

Valdes-Rodriguez lays on the irony with a trowel and makes the same points repeatedly: people with Spanish surnames come from different places (and they hate to be called Hispanic), American racism is endemic, and clueless white people never get the slang right.

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 2004
ISBN: 0-312-33234-3
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2004


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