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by Denise Chávez

Pub Date: April 15th, 2001
ISBN: 0-374-19411-4
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Funny, raunchy novel from the author of American Book Award–winner Face of an Angel (1994), this is about lonely women in a dusty bordertown.

Tere Ávila is a school aide at Cabritoville Elementary in New Mexico with little to do after hours but check out the same losers in the same bars and commiserate with her girlfriends, fellow members of the Pedro Infante Fan Club. In their eyes, the long-dead Mexican actor is the only real man around; they watch his movies over and over, sighing at his sensual good looks. Tere would give anything to find someone like Pedro. Her first husband didn't amount to much, and she scarcely gave him a thought after their quickie divorce. These days, she settles for fiery but ultimately unsatisfying trysts at a sleazy local motel with Lucio Valadez, the married father of a six-year-old girl. Tere feels guilty, but loneliness feels worse, and she ignores her practical friend Irma's advice to dump the guy and get on with her life. Lucio’s not all that wonderful, but he's all she's got, even if he is preoccupied with several family businesses and a little too eager to improve her, starting with her vocabulary. His gift of love: a dictionary. Much to Irma's disgust, Tere doesn't throw it at him but reads it instead. After all, didn't she study the biography of St. Teresa of Avila that Irma gave her too? But Tere is consumed with shame and regret when Lucio's little daughter sees them necking in the school parking lot. He immediately breaks off the affair, fearing his wife's wrath, and there's nothing Tere can do to change his mind. But the night is young, and her old flame, Chago, is back in town . . . she just might get lucky.

Not much story here, but the vivid characterizations and highly sensual style more than make up for it. Chavez's heroine is passionate, foolish, and wonderfully human.