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DOWN TO THE BONE by Mayra Lazara Dole

DOWN TO THE BONE

By Mayra Lazara Dole

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: March 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-084310-6
Publisher: HarperTeen

A passionate girl loses her first love but finds community and self in this flashy debut with awkward prose but lots of heart. Laura and Marlena have been fervently in love for two years when a caricatured sadistic nun nabs a love letter and reads it aloud. Instantly expelled from school and home, Laura stays with friends and works full-time landscaping. Things are okay until Marlena, sent unwillingly back to Puerto Rico, marries a boy and redefines her long relationship with Laura as “sinful.” Briefly faking (and attempting) heterosexuality to win back Mami’s love and access to her little brother, Laura slowly admits she’s a lesbian. Her chosen new family includes a sexually liberated best friend and a genderqueer boi. Miami is the lushly portrayed setting for this Cuban community. Dole’s writing is frequently syrupy, unwieldy or exaggerated (too much laughing “hysterically”); however, it also encompasses humor and love for Cuban culture that run deeper than the enjoyable outrageousness of, for example, a piñata full of “chocolate saints and teeny chocolate dicks.” (glossary) (Fiction. YA)