When Shai receives text messages from Marlena, the love of her life, and reads them during class, her dramatic mother finds out what her A-student daughter’s been doing behind her back and kicks her to the curb.
Soon Shai becomes involved with an unusual group of friends in exotic Miami. Can a discarded free-thinker turn the corner into a world as wild, hilarious, and painful as her first loveand create a new kind of family?
Bella Books is proud to bring the expanded Author's Edition of this best-selling Young Adult classic to print.
Booklist *Starred Review*
Sun-filled wonderland of friends, choices, broken hearts, honesty, family and love. - Alex Sanchez, Rainbow Boys
Originally published by Harper Teen.
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||14 Years|
About the Author
Mayra Lazara Dole loves papayas (slang for you-know-what but she’s honestly talking about the fruit), pineapples, finger bananas and long, cascading hair. She was born in Havana and raised in exotic Miami. The author was kicked out of an all-girl private school at thirteen due to a sizzling confiscated love note written to her by her girlfriend about their first time. She worked as a librarian assistant, ESL tutor, and landscape designer until she became a full-time writer. Mayra lives in Miami with her beloved partner (aka: Astro Maniac)she’s obsessed with astronomy, astrology and the occult and drives Mayra nuts! Dole started her writing career with picture books depicting two rebel eight-year-old girls (for sure they’ll be MAJOR lesbos when they grow up), and the first Cuban American critically acclaimed lesbian YA novel in history. She’s written essays, short stories and poetry for literary and lesbian magazines and for Hunger Mountainthe Vermont College Fine Arts journal of the arts. Mayra’s magical realism short story, Inside the Inside (CORNERED anthology / Running Press) and Run for your Life! (THE LETTER Q anthology / Scholastic) will also be published in 2012. Oh, and she’s been a Lambda literary YA judge, something she loves and is very proud of.
Read an Excerpt
Down to the Bone
By Mayra Dole
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2007 Mayra Dole
All right reserved.
This morning the sun rose like a loaf of sweet banana bread. That's because today is the last day of school and we're free before lunch! And if that's not the best news ever, check this out: it's my two-year anniversary with Marlena, the love of my life. Her summer vacation started yesterday. She's expecting me at her place so we can celebrate. I can't wait to get out of this boring last class to visit her!
Sister Asunción—better known as Fart Face—is at the board writing the titles of the texts we'll need next year. What kind of a wacked-out thing is that? I'm secretly reading the love letter Marlena gave me yesterday. I've got it hidden inside my math book.
Happy anniversary! I never thought I could love someone soooooo much. Remember our first kiss?
I close my eyes.
Wild, galloping rain and booming thunder shakes my apartment. Pedri, my little bro, is spread out on the orange living-room sofa watching MTV. Mami and her boyfriend, Osvaldo, sit in the garlic-smelling dining room, yacking and drinking after-dinner cafecitos. Marlena and I are chillin' on my bed, listening to hip-hop.
She tells me, "My dad's crazy to think rap is evil."
"Yeah. I wish he wasn't so strict and let you come to parties with me." I shake my head. "He's so messed up."
She smoothes my hair away from my face and kisses my forehead. "That's why I love coming here." Her black eyes sparkle. "Dancing with you is what kissing must be like: the best feeling in the world." With a flick of the finger, she changes the music to a slow, romantic bolero and just lies there looking into my eyes.
I bolt from the bed, rush to the music shelf, grab a Cuban CD, and put it on. Heart- thumping beats vibrate the walls.
I hoist my button-down hip-hugger jeans and mess up my long, straight black hair so it's crazy-wild. "Come on!"
Marlena jolts out of bed and lands in front of me. She tries to mimic my wild, freestyle footwork and bouncy rhythm, but her feet get all tangled up. I rotate my hips before stepping into a twirling cha-cha-cha. "Superslick or what?"
"You're the best!" She jams up the music. "I'm going to break dance."
"You? To this music?" I let out a piercing laugh. "Right! And I'm growing a pin-striped eyeball on the tip of my nose."
"You'll see!" She stands on her head and stares up at me from the floor.
"A dry head spin? No way! You'll break your neck! Start with the six steps."
She doesn't listen and lands smack on her chunky butt.
We laugh our heads off.
The CD ends, and for a second there's a sharp silence. We stand face-to-face. A whooshing wind dives in through the bedroom windows, making her long, jet-black curls wave around in the breeze. We look deeply into each other's eyes. Her black eyes seem liquid under the dim light of my purple lava lamp. A beautiful sweetness pours over me, reminding me that she's becoming one of my closest friends.
The walls around me fade. I feel as if I'm swimming inside her soul. Something different is happening inside me. She leans into me. Her velvety lips touch mine, and I get goose bumps all over. I feel as if silvery threads of rain are covering my entire body. I'm turning into the sea, becoming one with her, melting.
We kiss for a long, long time.
I stroke Marlena's face with my hands and outline her lips with my fingers . . .
"Didn't you hear my question?" I'm snapped cold out of my thoughts when a looming shadow stands in my way. I look up. ¡Ay, ay, ay! Gray-haired, wrinkly Fart Face tears Marlena's letter out of my hands. My heart thumps in my chest something furious.
She faces the class. "Would you like to hear what's in this highly important letter?"
She can't read the letter out loud. She can't!
"Yeah!" everyone except my best friend, Soli, blasts.
"Please give it back." I try to grab the letter forcefully out of her hands, but instantly she pulls it away.
Fart Face puts on a disgustingly fake smile and walks slowly to her desk. "So this letter is that good, huh?" She sits poised on the chair, lowers her reading glasses, and begins:
"You're the greatest kisser in the world, Scrunchy. I can't wait till tonight, when your family leaves for your grandmother's, so we can be alone and make love."
The guys whistle and shout, "Way to go! Scrunchy is finally hooking up!"
Fart Face walks toward me with almost silent steps. She stops a few feet away from my desk. "Wait until your mother finds out. She'll just love it." She turns to the class.
"Should I continue reading, or is this too boring?"
"Read on!" Everybody except Soli goes nuts. She sits wagging her head.
"No! Please, stop," I beg with my heart in my mouth.
"Quiet!" Fart Face stomps her foot and shuts me up.
My whole body quivers. I want to run for my life, but my feet are glued to the floor.
She clears her raspy voice and continues . . .
"I feel I've known you all my life, and I know we'll be together till eternity. You mean everything to me, Scrunchy."
"Scrunch-Munch is a beast!" Rodrigo cheers.
"Scrunch-Munch! Scrunch-Munch!" the guys yell.
Soli is widening her eyes as if telling me, "Grab the letter and run!" But I can't move.
"Every day I love you more. I'm glad you love me too. I can feel it deep, deep in my heart."
Rigoberto teases, "Who's your secret lovey-dove, huh, Scrunchy?"
My chest hurts as if a Mack truck is parked on it. I think about a white horse picking me up and galloping me full speed out of here. Mami's going to kill me. They're going to expel me from school. I've got to do something before everyone finds out!
"What we have is special . . ."
I'm trapped by Fart Face's rasping voice, hurting my ears, killing me slowly. She's really enjoying this. I know that the line that's coming is going to be the end of me.
I cover my face with my hands.
"I know we are girls, but a guy could never make love to me the way that you do. I never thought being with a girl could bring so much pleasure. I love you with all my heart and soul. I'll love you till forever, my beautiful Laura Sofía. . . ."
After a roaring "What?" the room becomes hushed.
I feel darts shooting at me from my friend Cecilia's eyes as she shouts, "You're a tortillera?"
My good friend Yasi snaps, "Revolting!"
Aracelis's stare pierces right through me. "I can't believe we've been your friend all these years and you never told us."
Bookworm Margarita speaks up. "Give her a break. Don't be so dense. It's no big deal."
"Wait till she wants to hook up with you!" Olivia remarks. She sticks her index finger in her mouth as if she were about to puke.
I gulp down my pain and put on a stern "I don't care" face. I won't give them the satisfaction of seeing me hurt.
Soli rushes over and puts an arm around my shoulder. "Hey, jerks. We're in the twenty-first century. So what if she's homo. Don't you morons watch MTV?" She gives attitude just by being her curvy self, with those big watermelon boobs, flat stomach, tiny waist, and double-basketball bootie.
Gustavo lets out a gutsy laugh. "I got no problem hooking up with lesbos. Let's have a threesome!"
"Yeah!" The guys get all riled up, laughing hysterically, clapping and stomping their feet. "Let's do it! Threesome! Threesome!"
"Shush!" Fart Face reprimands. She juts her long, pointy chin at Soli. "Go back to your seat, Soledad."
Soli squeezes me harder to her.
Fart Face untangles Soli's arm from around me and raises her voice. "Laura, follow me."
As I head out the door, Cecilia spits in my face. ¡Tortillera!
Excerpted from Down to the Bone by Mayra Dole Copyright © 2007 by Mayra Dole. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
Sun-filled wonderland of friends, choices, broken hearts, honesty, family and love.—Alex Sanchez, Rainbow Boys
Down to the Bone is an original and exciting work that would make a great movie. The way Mayra Lazara Dole tells this story, will reach even the most reluctant souls.—Alejandro Agresti (Hollywood Film Director)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is passionate, funny, sad and authentic. Love the weaving of Cuban culture. A great read.
The new, expanded, updated, paperback edition of Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole is Exciting. Tender. Hilarious. Sad. Beautifully written. Very different from first edition. This one seems to be for a little older audience. Read it in one sitting!
So different from all the lesbian teen caucasion books. Im glad to see a difference sometimes!
How mortified would you be if one of your teachers read one of your private notes or letters out loud in front of the class? Take that mortification times one hundred, and that's what happens to Laura Amores on the last day of class. Except this letter is from her girlfriend and describes in detail their forbidden love. By the end of the school day, previous friends have deserted her, the nuns at her school have expelled her, and her mother has kicked her out of the house. At least until she changes her ways and falls in love with a boy.
Thankfully, Laura (who has many nicknames throughout the story) has a good friend in Soli and her mother, Viva. They let Laura stay with them indefinitely.
The story only gets worse for Laura. The girl she is in love with leaves Miami for Cuba. To add pain to heartache, Marlena tells Laura over the phone that she realizes their love was wrong and sinful and she is going to marry the man her family wants her to wed...
Read the full review at www.teensreadtoo.com
This is a really excellent young adult coming out story about a Cuban-American teenager who is kicked out of the house for being a lesbian and her struggle for self-acceptance. Luckily the character, Laura, has really good friends so it's not as harsh a story as it could have been. It's a vivid story full of interesting characters and a great window into Cuban culture.
Everything changed for Laura the day her teacher read her love letter out loud. Laura's been dating Marlena for two years on the sly and suddenly the whole world knows she's a tortillera, a girl who loves girls. Laura's expelled from school and her mom kicks her out. Then Marlena is shipped off to Puerto Rico to marry a boy. But although she's hurting, big-hearted Laura's got a support network to hold her up while she figures things out. And eventually she'll figure out who she is and who will love and understand her down to the bone. While I loved getting a unique perspective and couldn't help but like the vivacious Laura, there was too much telling and not enough showing. We're told that Laura's an environmentalist into making her own clothes and watching foreign films, but we never see any of that happening. There's a huge cast of characters in this novel and some random events that don't add to the story. I would have liked it better if it had been 150 pages shorter. That said, the Miami setting and cast of diverse characters make it stand out and I hope to see more from Ms. Dole.
Down to the Bone was an excellent read. It wasfunny and I could identify with it. It actually becameone of the titles for my reading group. After originallyteasing me for choosing "a kid's book", everyone inthe group agreed that it was a great read. We are allhoping she will write something else. There isn't enoughout there for people who live alternative lives.
I picked up the "last" copy of "Down To The Bone" at Border's and read it in one night. I couldn't put it down!! So much of Down to the Bone described my own experiences growing up. Finally at 4:45am, I turned my night light out and went to sleep smiling. Thanks for a great night, Mayra Lazara Dole!... :
I loved this boook i couldnt put it down. It was hilarious an some what sad but then hilarious again. There were some parts that made me mad but then it turned out all for the good. I love this book an im sure you will to.
Down to the Bone had so many hilarious laugh out loud parts that I could not wait to share it with my friends. I laughed & cried & fell off my chair. Was so enjoyable to learn about the distinct Cuban culture & diversity. I highly recommend it & cannot wait for her next book.
This novel starts with an unlikely event: a kiss! Laura¿s life isn¿t like Snow White's, who¿s kissed by a prince and brought back to life. Instead, Laura¿s kiss turns her life upside down and inside out. In consequence, she is thrown out of Catholic school and kicked to the curb by her mother who'd rather have a daughter in skid row than a 'degenerate' homo. This makes Laura's life no fairy tale. Yet, the author, like a fairy godmother, skillfully adds the magic ingredients of love, hope and laughter (there's laugh-out-loud humor)into Laura's life. With vivid Miami Latina/o characters such as Soli (Laura's boy crazy best friend), Viva (Soli's Saint worshiping/ metaphysical/loving/accepting mom and adopted mother to Laura), Tazer (a B-O-I who falls for Laura), Fernando (a new love?) the Crew (her heterosexual coworkers), and MIAMI (who feels like a character itself), Laura¿s journey becomes your journey as you are pulled in by Dole¿s web to root for Laura. In the end, you'll feel you too are part of the family she's created. ¿Down to the Bone¿ Mayra Lazara Dole¿s new YA/Adult novel will captivate you and take you on an emotional ride from beginning to end that will make it hard for you put the book down.