Frontera Street

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Overview

A richly imagined debut novel of friendship and forgiveness, Frontera Street explores the physical, cultural, and emotional borders that shape our lives. Carrying secrets and an unborn child, Dee Paxton leaves the affluent neighborhood of her youth and walks straight into Frontera Street Fabrics-a little shop in the barrio only blocks from her home, but worlds apart. Though Alma Cruz is not impressed with her new coworker, she can't help but appreciate her need for a friend. A single mother herself, Alma knows ...
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Overview

A richly imagined debut novel of friendship and forgiveness, Frontera Street explores the physical, cultural, and emotional borders that shape our lives. Carrying secrets and an unborn child, Dee Paxton leaves the affluent neighborhood of her youth and walks straight into Frontera Street Fabrics-a little shop in the barrio only blocks from her home, but worlds apart. Though Alma Cruz is not impressed with her new coworker, she can't help but appreciate her need for a friend. A single mother herself, Alma knows what it's like to raise a child alone-and she's not without her own secrets. But there is a price to pay for months of lies, and certain lines can be dangerous to cross.

Author Biography: Tanya Maria Barrientos, a journalist for more than 20 years, is a staff writer at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Her fiction was awarded a 2001 fellowship by the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, and the 2001 Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Born in Guatemala, she grew up in a Texas border town like the characters in her book. She is currently working on her next novel.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Dee Paxton is 28, recently widowed and pregnant when she applies for a job at a fabric shop in the Mexican neighborhood of her West Texas town at the opening of Frontera Street by Tanya Maria Barrientos. Dee's Mexican-American co-worker, Alma, pegs Dee as a stuck-up white woman, but when Dee collapses at the store, Alma finds herself obliged to care for her for a few days. Single-mother Alma gradually warms to Dee, as Dee comes to appreciate and love the Mexican-American culture of their border town. The plot is contrived and the story slow moving, but Barrientos's genuine affection for her characters and West Texas border life shines through. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A strongly detailed if sometimes overwrought first novel about an Anglo woman who crosses boundaries-physical, emotional, cultural-when she moves in with a Mexican family. Though the storyline depends far too much on coincidence and ghostly interventions, the Guatemalan-born Barrientos (now a staff writer at the Philadelphia Inquirer) renders the life in a small west Texas bordertown very well indeed. Dee, who was raised in the affluent Anglo suburb of Westside, is 28 when her husband dies suddenly from an aneurysm. She returns home, where her widowed mother, wanting to travel, gives Dee her house and leaves. Lonely and depressed, Dee finds work in the barrio in a fabric store. Coworker Alma resents her because she's a gringa-and that, for Alma, means trouble: In Mexico, Alma had been seduced by a gringo, Paul Walker, who abandoned her after she bore their daughter Socorro. The later story of how Dee moves into Alma's house on Frontera Street and not only finds a family but changes Alma's life as well is narrated by the two women and the now-15-year-old Socorro. When Dee, pregnant, collapses at work, a reluctant Alma takes her home, and Dee is soon reveling in the warmth of the barrio. She tries to help out as much as she can, but she doesn't tell Alma that she's from Westside, which will make for complications: Alma, who once worked there, was accused of stealing by a Westside matron. Alma also worries that ballet dancer Socorro, on scholarship at the Arts High School there, is being drawn into that alien world, and now Socorro wants to meet her father. Meanwhile, Dee must contend with crises-the surprise appearance of Socorro's father at her coming-out ball, confessions about her ownWestside upbringing-that strain the friendship almost to the breaking point. More a vivid portrait of a culture and a place than a gripping narrative.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451206350
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 7/28/2002
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 7.94 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    Amazing!

    Whether you want to read it mother-daughter style, in a book club, or just by yourself, you'll love Frontera Street! It's touching and a bit of a tear-jerker and romance, but there's definitely no sensory overload. Check it out!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2002

    A rich parable in a vibrant ethnic setting

    Frontera Street is a well-crafted story set in a richly detailed setting, a border town between Texas and Mexico where the divisions between super-rich Anglos and poor Mexicans are more sharply defined and strictly observed than the actual border between the two countries. The characters are fleshed out down to the last detail and their trials and tribulations are completely understandable to the reader. Frontera Street has three narrators, Dee, Alma, and Socorro, and each narrator's thoughts are lucid and incisive. The character Alma's dependence on the Virgin Mary and a Mexican folk spirit who may or not be real give the book an added spiritual dimension. The author's main flaw is a tendency toward a black-and-white view of the two groups even as her characters try to break down the walls between them. The Mexican-Americans are canonized, with even their kitchen rituals described in slow, nearly holy language, while almost nothing positive is said about the white Anglos who form Dee's world; sad, since the lesson of the book is to look beyond outward appearances and yet the author derides the Anglos' green lawns and swimming pools as if they were a measure of character. The ending was a bit of a stretch - all the pieces fell into place just a little too quickly to be believed - but overall Frontera Street is a very memorable story and an excellent first novel for Tanya Maria Barrientos.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2002

    wonderful

    This book is filled with real life. It depicts a community with such detail you almost want to move there. Alma and Dee's world my seem so diffrent on the surface but they are very alike. I enjoyed this books cultural lesson as well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2002

    Great, quick read!!

    The perfect summer reading book -- light, quick but also a book with a heart. Read this book because we all have secrets and they all have a way of being found out. We all want to have a family (either biological and/or one based on our friendships) and we all want to fit into the family matrix. Dee and Alma think they are too different to be friends and care for one another; however, deep down they are very much alike. It is a shame when society wants us only to live in our small pockets and we choose to stay in those pockets -- life is too short for such small-mindedness. I think the lesson here is to follow your heart and accept people for who they are -- not who you want them to be. Please, please read this book. It is a wonderful gem.

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