Book Review: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

One button (out of five) review for this book:

I’m giving this book one button to recommend it—not very
gracious, but I didn’t like the book.  And even that button is
given half-heartedly.   I liked the idea of the book
when I read a blurb—young Mexican daughter, loves to cook,
finds out that she can’t marry because she will have to remain
at home to care for her mother in mother’s older years.

And it was clever to include 12 recipes (12 months) of Mexican
cooking.  (Although eating some soup that tears have fallen into
somehow doesn’t entice me.)

There.  That’s about it for what I liked.  But I’ll grant it the button
because it was a best-selling award winning book so must be I’m
the one who’s wrong.

I found the book as a recommendation for junior high readers, and
had never read it, so . . . and . . . the redeeming quality for being on
this list was —what?

It’s a coming of age tale taken to every extreme Ms Esquivel could
think of, and when those extremes paled, she’d toss in some gross
bodily function–or all the guests at a dinner party vomiting.

Written to shock and tantalize—and thrown together at the end
almost, I might say, hurriedly, with convenient resolutions to
problems.  Oh! she’s *not* pregnant?  Oh! he died?

All of a sudden whole generations flash by our eyes.  Oh–that’s
the meaning of the book . . .?

Could we have had an occasional phrase tossed in in Spanish
to give it some real Mexican flavor?

Sorry–it was a disappointing and annoying read.

Wah!  ©booksandbuttons








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6 Responses to Book Review: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

  1. Jennifer says:

    Glad you feel comfortable giving only one button to a book that is supposed to be great. One of the great mysteries is why middle school and high school reading lists have so many books with such extremely harsh views of life.

    • booksandbuttons says:

      Hi Jenny—I completely agree! There are plenty of
      worthwhile books out there–why concentrate on the
      worst? As William Faulkner once said in a thank you
      speech—a writer’s job is to inspire—(something
      like that!) Thanks for your comment.

  2. Stefanie says:

    I read this book many years ago not long after it first came out and loved it. It was my first taste of magical realism. I very much enjoyed how the emotions of Tita affected the food she made and then the people who ate the food. And I thought the romance was sweet.

    • booksandbuttons says:

      Hi Stefanie–I’m glad to read your comment. Someone I know also
      thought the movie was charming. It just didn’t have that effect
      on me–

  3. Buttondeb says:

    I think that I approach magical realism in the same way as a fairy tale, so that I don’t bring the same expectations as I would to other forms of fiction. Then, when the story is fantastical, non linear, or doesn’t make sense, I’m just along for the ride! I find that the books I’ve read that are in this genre are often very visual and kind of musical in their own way, like poetry, so that the images and rhythms can be enjoyed for their own sake.
    That being said, I’m glad that you’ve continued to employ the button rating system!

    • booksandbuttons says:

      I’d be interested in discussing this with you further!
      thanks for the comment. Maybe it was just this particular
      book that gave me problems.

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