A slender first novel that offers a pleasingly complex and vivid picture of life in ``El Campo Colorado,'' a workers' camp for (mostly Mexican) fruit-pickers in southern California. In alternating fragmentary narratives, the four Cruz sisters describe their hard lives and incomplete accommodation to American culture. They're acutely distinguished: ``bad girl'' Rita; ambitious Gloria, driven by her dreams of upward mobility and material success; dreamy Laura, who ``lives for TV'' (``Laura believes she is a member of the Partridge Family''); and--the story's principal narrator--dutiful Emily, who's persuaded to run for her junior high school's class presidency, and who understands better than any of them the injustice and animosity that make their father a belligerent drunk and their mother an embittered neurotic. The story is thin but expertly fashioned and filled with lovely, emotionally charged moments. An admirable debut performance.