Sandra Cisneros’ Caramelo or Puro Cuento is a large (439 pages) novel that follows the lives of a Mexican/Mexican-American family from Mexico to Chicago to Texas and back again to all those places. The novel is long and the story is sometimes winding, but the destination, in my opinion, was worth it.
How do you want to classify the book? It’s a coming of age story. It’s the saga of a family’s journey through the generations. It’s a tale of women. It’s a look at the nature of memory. It’s the story of Mexicans. It’s the story of Americans. It’s the story of Mexican-Americans--of immigrants and of the children of immigrants.
It’s the story of anyone anywhere who has ever lived in the in-between—not quite fitting in anywhere.
If you are in the mood for a novel and have a bit of time to work with, go ahead and pick this one up.
One of my favorite lines from the book to close:
“And I don’t know how it is with anyone else, but for me these things, that song, that time, that place, are all bound together in a country I am homesick for, that doesn’t exist anymore. They never existed. A country I invented. Like all emigrants caught between here and there” (434).