SCHOOLING CARMEN by Kathleen Cross


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Can I get some damn mercy down here?

That’s the burning question that black and beautiful Carmen DuPrè just has to ask God. She never expected to have to take a dead-end job as a guidance counselor in a tough, mostly Spanish-speaking East Los Angeles high school. Nothing—not her English degree from Spelman or her family connections in the educational bureaucracy—is going to get her out of this hellhole. She doesn’t know how she ever sunk this low, especially since she’s drop-dead gorgeous. How is she supposed to take the problems of the no-account, baggy-pants Mexican-American kids she works with seriously? They can hardly speak English. Unlike the Mexican-American car mechanic who just explained what’s wrong with her Lexus. But Pedro Camacho is more than a mechanic. He runs the repair shop and he’s a philosopher of sorts, especially since his young son just died of cancer. Yes, he knows what’s real—but Carmen still doesn’t get it. Her materialistic outlook, nasty attitude, and selfishness lead her straight down the wrong path and into bed with a creepy school superintendent—while she ignores the advances of the sincere but not quite perfect Eugene, a crusading geek from the Math Department. But when she receives a sudden and devastating diagnosis of malignant breast cancer, everything changes. Will learning to listen to Pedro’s hard-won wisdom put an end to her anti-Mexican bigotry? Yes. Will the prospect of disfiguring surgery end her obsession with her appearance and allow her to concentrate on higher things? Also yes. Most importantly, will Eugene reappear at a convenient point in the plot and save the day?

Energetic story that makes a lot of obvious points, from the author of Skin Deep (not reviewed).

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-06-093645-2
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2004