Title: Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz
Author: Belinda Acosta
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: August 11, 2009
Chanclas. ¡Híjole! Mi’ja. The red faced man who smelled like cigar smoke and Ben Gay. Amá. ¡Coraje! ¿Cómo se dice? These are just some of the phrases that are sprinkled throughout Belinda Acosta’s novel Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz
giving it the flavor it needs to be authentic and relatable to those who really know the hectic world of quinceañeras.
The novel is about Ana Ruiz and her family as they begin to plan her daughter, Carmen’s, quinceañera. One might think that they already know the drama that will ensue: a disagreement over the quince’s dress, spending too much money, and which primas will be on the court! Yes, it’s all there, but it takes a backseat to Ana’s main issues. Ana and her husband of 20 years, Esteban, are in the middle of a separation that no one really seems to understand. The confusion is tearing at her family, especially Carmen, a daddy’s girl to the point of brattiness. How Ana manages to tolerate her only daughter’s disrespect is proof that she is “like a blade of grass in a hurricane.” Her son, Diego, is more like herself in his willingness to tackle his pain on his terms without lashing out at others.
The language of Damas
is almost wasted on page. The characters have such a clear voice. There aren't just some common Spanish words here and there like, “¿Cómo estás?”, but also terms that you hear amongst family and friends such as, “Ay, Carmen.” (It’s too easy to hear your mother saying that to you!) The accents of the characters are also easy to distinguish. Esteban, who didn’t always speak English, is singing the Stevie Wonder song “Isn’t She Lovely?” with a twist. “Ella muy bella...Ella es won’erful.” Even if you don’t have a firm grasp on Spanish, don’t be alarmed. It is plenty easy to understand what is going on since the majority of the novel is English.
The characters are people that you can imagine in your life. Tío Marcos is that opinionated family member that everyone has and still loves. Bianca is the person that you love and even admire for their wild, yet inspirational ideas and actions. The mother-daughter relationship between Ana and Carmen is one that is very easy to understand. There is a struggle, almost a competition between the two throughout the story. With Carmen pulling out all the hurtful stops, and Ana waiting patiently (for the most part). Here lies the true meaning of the novel, and quinces themselves, learning how to be a woman. Even though the relationships themselves are not easy, there is enough love to fill an entire quince hall.
Here is a short bio on Belinda Acosta, taken from the “Quien es ella?” section of the blog where Acosta writes about Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz.
to go to Belinda Acosta's blog about Damas
“Belinda Acosta lives and writes in Austin, Texas where she is a columnist for the Austin Chronicle. Her non-fiction has appeared in Poets & Writers, Latino USA, the radio journal of news and culture, AlterNet, the San Antonio Current, and Latino Magazine. She is a member of Macondo, the writers' collective launched by acclaimed writer Sandra Cisneros. She loves knitting, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, chips & salsa, mariachi (good, make your soul leap from your body, mariachi); conjunto music (todo old school), and given the opportunity, will square dance. DAMAS, DRAMAS, AND ANA RUIZ is her first novel.”