Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhoods and Fierce Friendships [NOOK Book]

Overview

Friendships can bring us peace, fill the emotional shortcomings in our romantic relationships, and help us remember what lies deep inside every one of us. For more than twenty-five years, the international organization Las Comadres Para Las Americas has been bringing together thousands of Latinas to count on, lean on, help, and advise one another. Comadre is a powerful term. It encompasses the most important relationships that exist between women: best friends, confidantes, coworkers, advisers, neighbors, ...
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Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhoods and Fierce Friendships

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Overview

Friendships can bring us peace, fill the emotional shortcomings in our romantic relationships, and help us remember what lies deep inside every one of us. For more than twenty-five years, the international organization Las Comadres Para Las Americas has been bringing together thousands of Latinas to count on, lean on, help, and advise one another. Comadre is a powerful term. It encompasses the most important relationships that exist between women: best friends, confidantes, coworkers, advisers, neighbors, godmothers to one’s children, and even midwives.

Edited by acclaimed author and editor Adriana V. López, this collection of stories features twelve prominent Latino authors who reveal how friendships have helped them to overcome difficult moments in their lives. Fabiola Santiago, Luis Alberto Urrea, Reyna Grande, and Teresa Rodríguez tell their stories of survival in the United States and in Latin America, where success would have been impossible without a friend’s support. Esmeralda Santiago, Lorraine López, Carolina De Robertis, Daisy Martínez, and Dr. Ana Nogales explore what it means to have a comadre help you through years of struggle and selfdiscovery. And authors Sofia Quintero, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, and Michelle Herrera Mulligan look at the powerful impact of the humor and humanity that their comadres brought to each one’s life, even in the darkest moments.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the center of this collection of short essays is a term which has no exact translation to English: comadre, a word “unique to Latino culture” which “encompasses some of the most complex and important relationships that exist between women.” Comadres are “best friends, confidants, co-workers, advisors, neighbors, and godmothers to one’s children” and the anthology itself was commissioned by an organization called Las Comadres Para Las Americas, an international network that connects Latina women for mutual support. With such sterling goals, it is not surprising that the collection falters in terms of drama and tension. Some of the writing is lovely—in particular a story from Esmeralda Santiago (When I Was Puerto Rican), “Las Comais,” in which she describes the quartet of women who raised her in Puerto Rico. There are other bright spots, like an account from Michelle Herrera Mulligan (editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan Latina), “Anarchy Chicks,” of her troubled, frequently dysfunctional relationship with her (non-Latina) childhood best friend, Tara. Peculiarly, the book sets itself up to potentially alienate a larger audience through the suggestion that Latinas have the market cornered on complex friendships, and uplifting tales of great female friends of any race or ethnicity hardly constitute compelling nonfiction. Agent: Adriana Dominguez, Full Circle Literary Agency. (Sept.)
Diana Gabaldon
"A wonderful chorus of lovely, distinctive voices, rich in humor, tragedy, and compassion."
Oscar Hijuelos
"Intimate, interesting and always entertaining, Count on Me is filled with much LTLC— Latina Tender Loving Care: readers everywhere will surely cherish it — for it is not only a wonderfully written book, but one to be kept and cherished by future generations."
From the Publisher
"A wonderful chorus of lovely, distinctive voices, rich in humor, tragedy, and compassion."

"Intimate, interesting and always entertaining, Count on Me is filled with much LTLC— Latina Tender Loving Care: readers everywhere will surely cherish it — for it is not only a wonderfully written book, but one to be kept and cherished by future generations."

Kirkus Reviews
An anthology celebrating sisterhood and the special bonds that connect Latinas from diverse backgrounds. Edited by López (Fifteen Candles: 15 Tales of Taffeta, Hairspray, Drunk Uncles, and other Quinceañera Stories, 2007, etc.), this wide-ranging collection mostly represents the work of prominent Latina authors and is published as a work of joint authorship by Las Comadres Para Las Americas, an organization with a membership of nearly 15,000 Latina professionals. In an introduction, CEO and president Nora de Hoyas explains that the "term [comadres] encompasses some of the most complex and important relationships that exist between women," from best friends to midwives. In 2000, she attended an informal gathering of Latina professionals and was inspired to build "a multigenerational, multiracial sisterhood where Latinas can learn about and celebrate their culture." In 2008, they organized a book club to explore American Latina literature. The stories in this collection all deal with the topic of female friendship, except for the contribution of Luis Albert Urrea, who writes about his close relationship with a woman he met as a child in a Tijuana garbage dump. Several of the pieces deal with the relationship between a Latina author and a cherished teacher who became a lifelong comadre. One of the highlights is "Every Day of Her Life" by Carolina De Robertis, who formed a deep relationship with a Lebanese writer while both were in graduate school. Her comadre died at age 47, leaving an unfinished novel for De Robertis to complete. In "Casa Amiga," Teresa Rodriguez commemorates the life of a Mexican human rights activist who made a particularly strong impression on her. A beautiful evocation of love, friendship and community.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451662962
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 9/4/2012
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,180,779
  • File size: 1,018 KB

Meet the Author

Nora de Hoyos Comstock, PhD, is the national and international founder, president, and CEO of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, an international organization that has been bringing together thousands of Latinas for more than a decade to support and advise one another.

Adriana V. López is the author and editor of several books. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post, among other publications. She lives in New York and Madrid.

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Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

There is no question that women’s relationships are unique, and so is the organization we named Las Comadres Para Las Americas®. A landmark UCLA study found that reaching out to friends is a woman’s natural response to stress. It is said these friendships can bring us peace, fill the emotional shortcomings in our romantic relationships, and help us remember what lies deep inside every one of us. Women are a source of strength to each other. And despite our busy schedules, we as women need to have a relaxed space in which we can do the special kind of soul-searching talk we do when we gather with other women. Without it, we weaken.

Las Comadres Para Las Americas helps provide that time and space for women, but another reason why the organization resonates with thousands of Latinas is the familiar Spanish-language term in our name: comadres. The term encompasses some of the most complex and important relationships that exist between women. Comadres are best friends, confidants, coworkers, advisors, neighbors, and godmothers to one’s children. The term is also used to describe midwives, and there may be no more intimate a moment than one woman helping another bring a child into the world. Comadre is indeed a powerful term, and concept, and its connotations are unique to Latino culture. All Latinas recognize the most common definition of the term comadre—the one related to friendship and camaraderie. Comadres are the women they know they can count on, lean on, and ask for advice or for help when needed. Like Las Comadres Para Las Americas, comadres make up the support system women create for themselves on the personal and professional fronts.

Comadres acquire a particular level of importance for Latinas living in an Anglo world—in addition to serving as a source of comfort, understanding, and inspiration, these women also serve as direct links to their cultural and family heritage. Sometimes, when a woman’s family is far away or is a cause of strain on her daily life, comadres become a surrogate family that doesn’t hold judgment. Comadre-type friendships can also blossom with non-Latinos who appreciate a Latina’s openness and warmth in her manner of showing affection.

Aside from finding a comadre to enrich your life, I believe another important piece to the puzzle comes from reading books by Latino authors. A journey through a writer’s words and similar experiences can provide the ultimate connection to another human being. This anthology was a dream Esmeralda Santiago and I talked about several years ago. She has been the spokesperson for the book club that forms part of Las Comadres Para Las Americas and I cherish her friendship from the bottom of my heart. The idea of bringing together a sampling of Latino literature’s most vibrant voices on the topic of female friendships seemed the natural next step. But without the book club, there might have never been an anthology. And I find it important to explain why it occurred to me to begin a book club in the first place. Emblazoned in my memory is a specific experience that led me down this path: A young Latina in her midtwenties, who had recently graduated from college, was volunteering in my office. Since I had no funds to pay her, I gave her a book by an author who also happened to be a comadre. She looked at it and said, “I have never read a Latina writer before.” I was stunned. Then I realized that this had been my own experience not so long before, and that I needed to help to change that. When the next uninitiated Latina walks through my door, I will hand her this anthology in hopes of inspiring her.

This collection of stories by prominent Latino authors is a table spread out with snapshots of friendships that overcame their difficult moments, but survived because of the humor and humanity comadres can offer, even in the darkest moments. A comadre or the idealized notion of comadreship can also manifest itself in various ways throughout a woman’s life. In “Las Comais,” Esmeralda Santiago recounts her mother’s close-knit relationships with a small and colorful army of comadres in 1950s Puerto Rico, which became an inspiration for Santiago in both her creative and personal life. In “Every Day of Her Life,” Carolina De Robertis takes on the role of caretaker for her deceased friend’s unpublished first novel, as if it were her beloved comadre’s child, her flesh and blood. If life is a highway, Stephanie Elizondo Griest sets out in “Road Sisters” on a journey with an unfamiliar copilot whose eventual friendship winds up steering her away from life’s dead ends, and back on the right path.

In “Crocodiles and Plovers,” Lorraine López remembers how a prominent yet reticent alpha author on campus guided her through the rough waters of academia, and how López figured out a way to give back to her mentor in her own fashion. In Latin America, politics or corruption can either separate two women or bring them together for a cause. Fabiola Santiago’s “Letters from Cuba” describes a tender childhood friendship that withstood the test of time, revolution, and lost correspondences. In “Casa Amiga: In Memory of Esther Chávez Cano,” Teresa Rodríguez pays a moving tribute to a woman who gave her life to defend women from the violence in Juárez, Mexico, while finding the time to be a comadre to thousands.

Long-lasting and deep friendships can be formed quickly, and sometimes in the most unexpected moments or places. When two artists with different creative styles meet at a New York City event in Sofia Quintero’s “The Miranda Manual,” neither would have expected that they would end up sharing their personal and celluloid dreams together, as well as be committed to each other through sickness and health. In “My Teacher, My Friend,” Reyna Grande relives the hardships she underwent, after emigrating from Mexico only to reconnect with an abusive father, until she walked into a classroom and met the woman who would inspire her to become a writer. In “Cooking Lessons,” chef extraordinaire Daisy Martínez recounts the day she invited three young fans, whom she met on social networking sites, to her home to create an exquisite meal that they would all savor for a lifetime.

Comadres can save your life, and they can be as wild and risk-taking as Thelma and Louise, who without each other might not have been able to walk away from an abusive relationship and unhappy home life. In “Anarchy Chicks,” Michelle Herrera Mulligan finds herself a rebellious friend at school whose fearlessness helps them plow through the pains of adolescence, dysfunctional families, and racial differences. The fact is, female friendships are scientifically proven to be good for one’s health, and in her essay “A Heart-to-Heart Connection,” Dr. Ana Nogales not only discusses why strong social support networks help prevent depression in women, but shares her own struggles with both fitting in and finding true comadres throughout her life. In Nogales’s words, “When we join with other women and learn that our experiences are similar to those of our comadres, we create a sacred space in which to heal.” The final story in this collection proves that not only women can be honorary comadres, but so can men. When Luis Alberto Urrea returns to his former home in Tijuana he reunites with his younger friend, who is still a resident of the city’s garbage dump, and shows her how to dream. And in the process, demonstrates what it means to be a compadre in this day and age.

Although writers are often known to be solitary and private people, without a comadre willing to back them through crucial years of self-discovery, making their way in the U.S. might have been utterly impossible. In these twelve candid and thought-provoking stories chock-full of devourable morsels of wisdom, perhaps you too will recognize your own comadre in your life. If this is so, then you are one lucky person, and if you’re in need of finding that special friend, now you know where to find her, comadre. You can count on us.

Nora de Hoyos Comstock, PhD

President & CEO

Las Comadres Para Las Americas

www.lascomadres.org

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Table of Contents

Introduction Nora de Hoyos Comstock, PhD ix

Las Comais Esmeralda Santiago 1

Every Day of Her Life Carolina De Robertis 7

Road Sisters Stephanie Elizondo Griest 41

Crocodiles and Plovers Lorraine López 63

Letters from Cuba Fabiola Santiago 87

Casa Amiga: In Memory of Esther Chávez Cano Teresa Rodríguez 101

The Miranda Manual Sofia Quintero 115

My Teacher, My Friend Reyna Grande 135

Cooking Lessons Daisy Martínez 151

Anarchy Chicks Michelle Herrera Mulligan 165

A Heart-to-Heart Connection Dr. Ana Nogales 189

Compadres Luis Alberto Urrea 203

Acknowledgments 221

Contributors 225

The History of Las Comadres Para Las Americas 233

Daisy Martinez's Recipes from "Cooking Lessons" 237

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 14, 2013

    Count On Me has been a joy to read and discuss with my Book Club

    Count On Me has been a joy to read and discuss with my Book Club members. We all have different favorites for different reasons, and enjoyed comparing our thoughts on each Tale. One consistent topic was how each story revealed how women mentor (other women especially, but also men). Even Luis Alberta Urrea gave us a profound read on that topic. We all agreed that the same theme runs through his Queen of America and The Hummingbirds Daughter.After reading these two Urrea quickly became a favorite among us. We loved his inclusion in Count On Me. Carolina de Robertis is also an easy sell for our group. But we would love to have more from each of these wonderful authors. Thank you all for a great read, and an even better discussion for our Book Club meetings - we are still referencing bits even months later!

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  • Posted December 4, 2012

    MUST READ - HIGHLY RECOMMEND

    I loved this book, all women deserve a "comadre" in their lives. I gave this book as a gift to one of my comadres, our mothers were true comadres, her eyes teared up just reading the cover, she knows how important it is to have at least one true comadre. This book is this years Christmas gift for my friends, cousins, sisters and sister in laws! Oh, you don't have to be Hispanic to have a comadre or compadre.

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