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CriticasThis is the Spanish-language translation of the much-talked-about debut novel by Valdes-Rodriguez that is already high on the New York Times best seller list. A seasoned reporter that critics have compared to Terry McMillan, Valdes-Rodriguez got a hefty advance at auction for this novel, and Jennifer Lopez's production company has bought the film rights. A motley crew of six ambitious and professional Latinas who met 10 years ago at Boston University reunite every six months to catch up with one another. All in their late 20s and from a variety of backgrounds but without foreign accents, they resist society's efforts to pigeonhole them through Latina stereotypes. They are trying to discover their niche in the world as they struggle to find suitable mates. Imperfect and not idealized, irreverent and not properly WASP, they call themselves sucias ("dirty"), which has been cleverly translated here as temerarias ("daring," "unconventional"). This is a world Valdes-Rodriguez knows well: She comes from a Cuban-Irish background and was raised in Albuquerque, NM. "My mission in the book," she told the Chicago Tribune, "is to prove that the Latino category does not exist." Thus, her protagonists don't break stereotypes; the stereotypes simply don't apply to them. Not Latin bombshells or politically unpredictable, they don't wash their clothes by the river or engage in Third World or magic realism musings. Although some may consider this debut frivolous chick lit, the novel provides painless cultural savvy. Translator Lamami de Clairac uses a general Spanish, avoiding the Mexican, Dominican, Colombian, Puerto Rican, and Cuban idioms that the protagonists could use given their backgrounds. This is agood move, as a translation full of idioms would not be realistic: The six girls live in an English-speaking world, and most don't even know Spanish. Valdes-Rodriguez's bright use of language loses something in translation, but this version is still a fun and easy read. Generally recommended as one of the best beach books this year.
—Dolores M. Koch, New York City Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.