Amor and Summer Secrets
Diana Rodriguez Wallach
Kensington, Sep 2008, $9.95
In Philadelphia an agument occurs between forty-five years old Lorenzo Ruiz and his eighteen years old son Vincent over what is family and their heritage. Lorenzo having arrived in Camden as a ten year old accomapnying his older brothers and their parents never looked back. However the fight shames Lorenzo who ignored his roots and Americanized his offspring. To atone for his slap at his DNA pool, he decides to send Vince and his other child fifteen-year old Mariana to spend time learning their heritage. Instead of hanging out with her friends and attending sweet sixteens, an unhappy Mariana and a euphoric Vince are shipped to some distant relatives she never met in Puerto Rico for the summer.
Mariana feels punished for her father’s sins and in the remote mountain home of her great aunt and uncle finds herself bored and lonely. There is no air except the occasional breeze that blows hot; no fast food only ultra spiced meals she cannot pronounce; no English except for cousin Lilly; no privacy or even posters on walls. So why she wonders is she having the greatest summer of her life.
The characters especially Mariana make for a strong entertaining contemporary tale. Vince sets the tone with his bet on the flight down that his sulking sister will cry on the way home because she will be sad that the most wonderful summer of her life is over. The story line contains a strong cast that provides deep insight into Puerto Rican extended families with a divide between those living on the island and those residing in the States. Diana Rodriguez Wallach provides a superb intelligent tale about how friendships make a place feel like home even when you first believe the Doors are right that “People are strange when you’re a stranger”.