Border-Line Personalities: A New Generation of Latinas Dish on Sex, Sass, and Cultural Shifting

Overview

Why, in the minds of most Americans, are Latinas still thought of as maids, seductresses, and booty-shaking salsa divas?

Never has the concept of Latina identity been more relevant. Also, never has there been a new generation of Latinas so ready to say what they mean and even criticize the Latina generation that preceded them. Until now.

In Border-Line Personalities, twenty writers share their poignant and wickedly funny stories about fighting ...

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Border-Line Personalities

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Overview

Why, in the minds of most Americans, are Latinas still thought of as maids, seductresses, and booty-shaking salsa divas?

Never has the concept of Latina identity been more relevant. Also, never has there been a new generation of Latinas so ready to say what they mean and even criticize the Latina generation that preceded them. Until now.

In Border-Line Personalities, twenty writers share their poignant and wickedly funny stories about fighting with their mothers, struggling with speaking Spanish, and dealing with the men who've done them wrong, among a myriad of other topics. In the end, each essay encompasses a different point of view, lending credence to the theory that no one can label any one item, idea, or person more Latina than the other.

Questions posed to Latinas of all ages in Border-Line Personalities:

  • Why do many of us often feel more American than Latina?
  • How important is Spanish, really?
  • Do we all really fit under one cultural umbrella?
  • When thinking about having children, do we really have to consider being stay-at-home moms as most of us were raised to believe was law, or can Latinas even consider the possibility of raising children while working?
  • What do we do when we fall in love with someone (male or female) outside our culture?
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
" `Y que dice la juventud?' `What does the youth have to say for itself?' " Julia Alvarez, in her introduction, remembers childhood family gatherings, when one of the viejos would wander over to ask the young people this question, fishing for intimidades. Of course, the juventud shut up immediately. A generation later, editors Moreno and Herrera Mulligan are also asking questions-and now, finally, it's okay to talk. How do today's young Latinas deal with the expectations of their mamis? Do they deal with men any better than their mothers did? What does it mean to be Latina today? The essays show a variety of Latina attitudes and lifestyles. Most contributors have survived several romances or divorces; some have children and spouses. All have struggled, somehow or other, to define and understand themselves as they straddle cultural borderlines. Readers will have their own favorites, but no one should miss Maria Hinojosa's "Ain't Dishin'," on her strong preference for sexual privacy, or Lynda Sandoval's painful essay on her relationship with her alcoholic father. Since some discuss universal problems and others focus on uniquely Latina issues, readers get an unusually balanced look at what's on the minds of this "new generation" of Latinas. Agent, Joy Tutela. (July) Forecast: Hot cover art, low price, plus lots of media-connected, articulate contributors should add up to robust sales. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060580766
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/6/2004
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 950,495
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Michelle Herrera Mulligan is a writer originally from Chicago, Illinois. She's published articles in Time, Publishers Weekly, and Teen People magazines, among many others. She was an associate articles editor at Latina and coordinated a special issue of Time Latin America focusing on young Mexican leaders. She is currently working on her first novel.

Robyn Moreno is a writer and editor at Woman's Day as well as their spokesperson, and is a frequent guest on Today, PlumTV, NY1, Good Day New York, and the Early Show on CBS. She has written fashion, travel, and lifestyle articles for InStyle, Glamour, Latina, Woman's Day, Cooking Light, Quest, and the New York Daily News. She lives in New York City.

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First Chapter

Border-Line Personalities
A New Generation of Latinas Dish on Sex, Sass, and Cultural Shifting

A Picture of Us

by Robyn Moreno

I'm not sure exactly whose idea it was to celebrate m mom's fifty-fifth birthday at Graceland. But somehow I found myself standing in front of Elvis's rather modest mansion with a candle in my hand, along with my family and the thousands of other lunatics who had come to pay homage to the King. After three hours of worship, I was fantasizing about fried peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches when my older sister, Nevia, snapped me out of my reverie. She asked me to take her picture with a suspiciously effeminate Elvis impersonator. Like a true king, he grabbed her by the waist and started serenading "Love Me Tender." Her squeals of delight caught the attention of my other two sisters, Yvette and Bianca, who ran up and joined in the fun. After the impromptu performance, they cheered and clapped loudly. "Elvis" bowed his head humbly and mumbled a "Thank you, thank you very much." As they huddled into a photogenic position, I realized this particular Elvis had breasts. Hmmmm. Either no one noticed or, more likely, no one cared. As I peered through the camera at the three girls and the lesbian Elvis, I saw the truth, No matter which road I travel, all paths lead me back to my crazy family.

We weren't always lesbian Elvis worshippers. The second of four daughters, I had a pretty typical Mexican-American childhood in San Antonio, Texas, replete with dance classes, annual road trips to California, and even a pet goat. I was always thought of as the good daughter. At parties my mom was fond of boasting to friends and relatives about my straight As and other achievements, as Nevia dug through my mom's purse to steal the car keys.

Nevia is six years older than I am, so while I was playing with dolls, she was toying with boys. My little sister Yvette is three years younger, and Bianca, the baby, is seven years younger. I've always thought we were spaced perfectly. Close enough to play together, but not so close as to suffer the horror of actually attending school simultaneously. We got along as could be expected. After school Nevia smoked cigarettes and hung out with her friends. Without her as our babysitter, I improvised, emceeing our eighties version of American Idol. (Yvette and Bianca were particularly fond of belting out ballads from Whitney Houston and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam.)

If I was feeling particularly evil, I would inflict tickle torture on them, or give them nightmares by telling stories of La Liorona, a woman who drowned her kids, or La Chusa, a crazy devil bird that ate children. When I felt especially sisterly, we would scrounge the house for change and run to the corner store for dill pickles and chamoy.

Those carefree afternoons ended when I was thirteen. My dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I knew him as a hardworking man who barbecued every Sunday and took us to the park on his motorcycle. He had two degrees, in political science and biology, and in his day he was into "Brown Power" and the Chicano movement. My good grades put me in his good graces, and he enrolled us both in an evening computer course. Every Tuesday after work he would come home and change, and we would take off in his van to the local high school. We always stopped for a snack before, usually donut and coffee (Coke for me), then attended the class, where I was the only kid. Having to always fight for attention with my three sisters, I truly treasured this time spent alone, this special attention he paid to me. I relished my role as a good girl.

At the end of my eighth-grade year, my father complained of stomach pains and was initially misdiagnosed with gall stones. When they operated to remove them, they discovered it was in fact a malignant pancreatic tumor. They informed him and my mom, who eventually told Nevia; they felt that, a nineteen, she was old enough to understand. Nothing was ever explained to me and my little sisters, but intuitively we knew, would round the corner in my house to find my sister and dad embracing. On the way to school, my mom would cry in the car. My dad's religiously fanatic sisters would come over with bizarre entourage, forming a prayer circle around his bed. We began to live in hospitals. Once, I was ordered to keep him company and, as I sat by his bed, we watched TV in silence. Bored and uncomfortable, I excused myself and climbed onto the roof from a waiting area window, where I read for the rest of the afternoon. When I came back my cousin was with him, so went home. He told my mom not to bring me back. I was a worthless sitter. He died on Valentine's Day, ten months after being diagnosed. He was forty-seven.

It was a violent and unexpected departure in the framework of our family, and our lives would forever be characterized in terms of before and after. Before our father's death, we seemed to be a relatively normal family. After his death, we five girls (Mom included) were left alone, and we developed a serious dependence on each other that formed the basis of our relationship. To this day, I have spoken with either my mom or one of my sisters (or all of the above) every day of my life.

After the death, we moved, and I was transferred to a predominantly white school that seemed like 90210 to me. They had school-sponsored ski trips, huge pep rallies, and kids named Sunny and Tyler who drove BMWs. It was a huge change from the all-Mexican high school I just left.

I went from being vice-president of my old school's freshman class to eating lunch by myself. Eventually, I created a role for myself as a smart, well-mannered girl and eventually fit in by joining the debate club and dating a Jewish boy named Mitch ...

Border-Line Personalities
A New Generation of Latinas Dish on Sex, Sass, and Cultural Shifting
. Copyright © by Michelle Mulligan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 16, 2011

    Must read!

    I found myself captivated by this book! I laughed and cried while relating to the experiences some of these women went through!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2011

    Inspiring

    Made me appreciate being a Latina even more!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2009

    Insightful

    Although the authors are Latina, I believe any woman can identify with a many of the essays.

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  • Posted December 29, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    great read

    this book touched on a lot of topics that were relatable. it was a great read and gave me a different perspective on different issues affecting our hispanic identity and culture.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2005

    Fantastic!

    Finally a book that captures the modern Latino experience. It's funny, sexy and a complete trip. Anyone can relate to these stories, it's well worth the price!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2005

    Recommended

    Not only is this book hilarous its real. A must read!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2004

    It's about time!

    Finally a book that speaks to the modern, Latina woman, without the sterotypes and condescension! Every Latina should read this refreshing and honest book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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