Tuesday, July 25, 2006

BBC: The Dirty Girls Social Club (Day 2)

I had some problems while reading The Dirty Girls Social Club. I was very perturbed by the fact that just within the first few pages there were mentions of throwing up as an accepted way to get thin. I found it hard to believe Usnavys, a very materialistic mama, works for a non-profit organization. I was also given the impression that this book would crush the stereotyping of Latinas; instead, I think it just reinforced it (I’m not a Latina but one of my best friends is). However, over all, the sucias are fun, intelligent women who have a lot to say about many things, and I really enjoyed that. *g*

Now, for our last questions:
  • Lauren spends much of her time feeling inadequate and like an imposter. What do you think these feelings are rooted in?
  • Elizabeth does not seem to think her secret and her religion are at odds with one another? Why not? Do you agree?
  • The sucias are all Latinas, but they are also of different races, religions and backgrounds. How does this compare to images of Latinas you see in the U.S. media?
Announcement of the next BBC selection will be on August 1st. All suggestions are welcomed and will be taken into consideration (if you want Kama Sutra, just say so :P). Here are our top picks so far:


25 comment(s):

Blogger Harlot said...

I don't like Lauren LOL. I mean i like that she's feisty but she doesn't care that she acts before thinking (maybe because this is a horrid trait i also have :/). Anyway, Lauren has to act as a typical "Latina" when she's not. She can't even speak Spanish fluently!

Elizabeth believes that God is okay with you as long as you have a clean and pure heart.

About the steroetyping, i think Trollop has the best say in this but i'll mention what i've observed. :P I have to say that what i think about Latinas, i based mostly from knowing Trollop and her family.

This book is about breaking some of the stereotypes about Latinas (not all have fake nails, loud mouths, have 10 children, have greasy boyfriends who are gangsters). But what about Ms. Valdes' stereotyping? In the book, all those talks about Dominican Republic, has the author been there? I mean Lauren's Dominican dude, Amaury, has to be a drug dealer (of course what else could he be?) who supports his sister and her whole family, takes care of her mother who's dying of cancer. Lauren then saves him which i thought is just condescending. Also, Roberto, a Cuban raised in Miami, is a macho pig who beats his wife. Not to mention all Latinos cheat. Oh-kay.

I think the author wanted to say that not all people labeled as Hispanic are the same. That they come from different countries, religions, colors, and backgrounds. That i get. But nothing more. Oh yeah. That Puerto Rico is under US government. LOL

7/25/2006 12:13:00 PM  

Blogger Jolie said...

Harlot, I agree. The cheating Latino boyfriend, the abusive husband, the Dominican drug dealer. Also what's up with the author's treatment of Amber? Am I the only one who got the feeling she was mocking her? Her Mexica movement and over the top character and then turns around and insists that Amber was right all along.

The author has some points about the poor flight of the Latino immigrants in America, and Americans obsession with race but over all, somehow it fell flat. Didn't really break any stereotyping at all.

7/25/2006 12:27:00 PM  

Blogger Isabella said...

I love this book! :D It's got that deep culture thing going on: how different Hispanics are treated differently, and the Mexicana movement, and so much more! I was unfamiliar with so many of the political aspects, so this was really a learning experience for me.

I thought a Hispanic was a Hispanic was a Hispanic, no matter what country they're from. Oh, how I was wrong.

This book is told from each sucia's point of view as time passes and the different perspectives keep the writing style fresh. Something that also kept the book interesting for me was how personality is given to EVERY character. Whether it's someone passing by a sucia on the street, or a protagonist, the reader is sucked in and feels like they're really there. It's amazing how the vivid image really attached me to the people like I was part of the circle. This is really a book about changing. Each woman goes through a change in her life, whether she decides to or not. They all end up changing for the better, and it's definitely an inspirational read.

7/25/2006 12:50:00 PM  

Blogger Mailyn said...

with a name like that I don't think I'd want to read the book. oh, wait, it's a contemp right? I wouldn't be reading it anyways...unless you tell me it has vampires :-P

LOL. (^_^)

7/25/2006 02:09:00 PM  

Blogger C Bradshaw said...

I think Lauren is trying too hard to prove that she is Latina.

About the stereotyping, I'm not Latina so I really can't say much. But I did noticed the author's way of stereotyping though. Like what Harlot and Jolie mentioned.

I liked the book, the sucias. What makes the story realistic is that the reader will not like all the sucias. Some will rub you the wrong way and you will want to slap them. Just like your friends in real life.

My only complain is the other non-translated Spanish in the book. I didn't get those as I can't speak the language.

7/25/2006 02:18:00 PM  

Blogger Danielle De Barbarac said...

I grew up with many Latina friends and although they don't exactly fit any of the sucias' characters, the sucias reminded me of my friends. I found myself relating with Rebecca and how she is a control freak and driven by success and just wants to be different from her mother. I felt sorry for Elizabeth and the discrimination she faced for being a lesbian. I felt angry for Sara and her experience with domestic violence.

I think this book, with all the stereotyping, depicts what America sees in all Latinas, and the way other people treat them, whether its the men from their own culture or not, or coworkers, or just people at large. The book discusses cultural and social issues that should be discussed in society.

7/25/2006 02:47:00 PM  

Blogger Isabella said...

Usnavys reminds me of Star Jones. LOL (pre-weight loss)

7/25/2006 03:11:00 PM  

Blogger Gun_Wielding_Bitch said...

I think Lauren felt inadequate is because she was, and wanted to be that way. She knew she dated guys who tyreated her like crap, she knew she acted like an ass and she knew she abused herself any chance she got. It seems to me she wanted to be that way because it got her attention.

Elizabeth (fav. character)has a good heart and thinks like most people, God loves everyone and if you do your best to not sin and be a good person, you are going to do ok.

I liked this book, but I don't agree with all the views depicted in here. One thing that really made me mad is Amber and the Mexica Movement. All the ideas that she was shoveling was hate and prejudice about "EuroAmerican" people (read white), and all they did to her people. This has also been an on going battle, in America, between black and white. Pointing the finger and calling others hateful words, is not going to stop the hate. I believe I have heard a quip before about warring for peace is like having sex for virginity. I look at it this way, yes; people came from Europe and killed Native Americans for their land. Is that right, no, but it happened and I can’t stop that. Did slave runners capture African people and sell them to other countries, including America? Yes and that sucks. Now, me being white, am I obligated to give someone 40 acres and a mule? Hell no. I didn’t steal the land and I didn’t have any slaves. And as far as me having to own up for what my ancestors did, bite my ass. I didn’t do it and I’m not taking responsibility for it. And as far as that goes, I think America owes me a pint of whiskey and a potato, because in the 1920’s to 1930’s, Irish people were treated worse than anybody of the time and weren’t allowed to get jobs (Irish Need Not Apply signs everywhere) so they and their families starved to death. :P

Anyway, Amber better learn that Native Americans generally hate to be called Indians. The only reason they are called Indians or American Indian is because Christopher Columbus thought they landed in India, not America, on their way to China and called them Indians.

The reason I like this book was for two lines in the book. First being about people using their color as an excuse to get a hand out or act stupid. I don’t care what kind of ‘hood you grew up in or what color your skin is. Don’t use negative as a crutch. You are your own worst enemy and no one owes you a damn thing. Second, I like the pigeon reference. About a pigeon and a dove being the same thing, just called different. We are all the same, regardless of race. We are all humans, no matter what label is slapped onto us.

7/25/2006 03:24:00 PM  

Blogger Lorelei said...

1. I think Lauren is a screw up. LOL Not to mention she always meets people who expect her to be more Latina than truly is.

2. Elizabeth has a strong belief in God and that He loves you no matter who you are. As long as you do good, you're in God's good graces.

3. I really loved the book's humor and characterization. However, it was hard to take the author's work seriously when she herself stereotyped various characters. I realize that some of it was intentional, but some nationalities were shown on a better light than others. Anyway, this is a great chick-lit that should be appreciated as the lighthearted, compelling read that it is. I think Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez has a lot of potential and I'll definitely try her other books.

7/25/2006 03:34:00 PM  

Blogger Lorelei said...

GWB, well said. Also I'm with you and Jolie on that Amber thing. For me, it felt too weird and too wrong. I think people should enjoy the book for its awesome characterization, but ignore the liberal preaching.

7/25/2006 03:38:00 PM  

Anonymous Ollenska said...

Izzie, love that Star Jones analogy. :P

I noticed the stereotyping too. But what I want to know are the loose ends in the book. What happened with Elizabeth's feelings for Lauren? Did they caught Roberto? (He's a major villain in the book and he just got away liek that!) What was Sara's take on her situation after all the changes she endured? What did Usnavys's job entail?


7/25/2006 03:56:00 PM  

Anonymous tinker bell said...

Oh I agree about the stereotyping in the book!

"...all the Puerto Rican ladies you see on the street are wide as a damn bus."
Yeah, right. What about JLo, who is always voted internationally as one of the best bodies in Hollywood. Also, there are many Puerto Rican Miss Universe, almost as much as Venezuelans.

"...I know what a Pueblo Indian looks like. And Rebecca Baca, with her high cheekbones and flat little butt, fits the description."
What's that? Stereotype.

Also, I don't think half the nation of Colombia is black, same with Costa Rica and Peru. I think that's inaccurate.

However, I really liked this book lol. I like the different characters (especially Rebecca). It's funny and fresh.

7/25/2006 04:34:00 PM  

Blogger Ladybug said...

Oh I liked both books! Whichever book you choose, I'll join in next discussion. :)

7/25/2006 04:39:00 PM  

Blogger Petra said...

I agree about Amber. It felt like she was just thrown in the book to have a politic side to it. And not a good one at that.

Let me say I really enjoyed this book. Even if it was a little unbelievable here and there, it showcases just how very different and varied Latinas can be. It's slow at times, but it picks up speed toward the middle, after which there is no looking back. The ending was such that I am holding out hope for a sequel. :)

7/25/2006 04:49:00 PM  

Blogger C Bradshaw said...

Tinker bell, I didn't notice those. Thanks for mentioning. :)

Olly is right. LOL There are many things left undeveloped in the book. But I really loved this book because of the diversity portrayed by each character. Each woman is unique in her own way. I didn't see them as "Latina" or "Typical", but as a reenactment of a few of the women I went to school with, work with, or just see in my everday life. Great choice BBs! (Hoping it would be The Other Boleyn Girl next!)

7/25/2006 05:10:00 PM  

Anonymous tilly said...

I've read this book last year and thought it was an okay read. I like Elizabeth but how come she didn't have any kind of struggle with being a lesbian? I mean, she's a very successful anchor and a devout Christian and at the same time a lesbian. It's possible to be a gay Christian, I know some actually, but they've all at least expereinced SOME struggle (if not a long, difficult battle) to reconcile their sexual and spiritual orientations. It just seemed like Elizabeth's only struggle was keeping her personal life a secret from the public, and in real life, I think her struggle would be much more multi-faceted, an adjective AVR has yet to learn. I just had a hard time believing Elizabeth woke up one morning and said "Hmm, I'm feeling a little lesbianish today. Now, what should I wear to church?" Which is basically how AVR portrayed her.

At the same time, Sara's character is described as being a Jewish Cuban, yet we see nothing that illustrates that she's Jewish, other than a brief mention of the fact that she was one of the first Cuban girls in her neighborhood to have a Bat Mitzvah. I was intrigued by this combination of cultures, which - and I'll allow my ignorance to show here - I never knew existed. By the same token, I was disappointed when AVR didn't flesh this concept out at all. She seems to enjoy pinning religions (and jobs) on her characters like name tags, without giving any background or insight into how these belief systems (and jobs) affect her characters' lives.

Great blog.

7/25/2006 06:55:00 PM  

Blogger Jolie said...

Olly I wondered the same thing about Elizabeth's feeling towards Lauren. Did she even tell her? I mean, Elizabeth's chapters started with her revealing her feelings about Lauren. I think it should at least have been mentioned...

7/25/2006 07:15:00 PM  

Blogger Jordis said...

I'm with Lorelei and GWB, Lauren is a screw up. She dates the wrong men, she even picked up a stranger after her friend told her he's a drug dealer, and then proceeded by inviting him to her place! She's either too desperate, too drunk (which i doubt), or too horny. I think she's self destructive.

I agree with the other ladies about the stereotypes; the story contained too many of them and they were exxagerated and inaccurate - as Tinker Bell mentioned, a Puerto Rican as wide as a bus?! Though even with all the problems, if you don't expect much, you'll be entertained.

7/25/2006 07:47:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Ladies, did you know that Dirty Girls was supposed to be made into a movie and JLo bought the movie rights to it?

"In 2001, Alisa's first novel, the landmark "The Dirty Girls Social Club," was sold to St. Martin's Press after a fierce bidding war. The book became a national bestseller, optioned for film by Columbia Pictures with Jennifer Lopez as a producer . . . and star. The rights eventually came back to Alisa when production on the movie failed to materialize; Alisa is in the process of turning the book into an independent film."


7/25/2006 07:59:00 PM  

Blogger Petra said...

Never liked JLo. LOL

Wonder who's she playing? And why didn't it materialized?

I'd like to see Eva Longoria as one of the characters. :P

7/25/2006 08:12:00 PM  

Blogger Jolie said...

re: And why didn't it materialized?

It's probably because JLo (a Puerto Rican) finally read the damn book and saw this:

"...all the Puerto Rican ladies you see on the street are wide as a damn bus."

7/25/2006 08:22:00 PM  

Blogger Danielle De Barbarac said...

Jolie LOL I didn't know this is going to be a movie...

Tinkerbell, I'd notice the same thing about the percentage number of population AVR has mentioned. I'm pretty sure in Costa Rica 97-98% are "white" or "mestizo". I'm not sure about Columbia though and Peru.

7/25/2006 10:19:00 PM  

Blogger MiMolcajete said...

This is one of my favorite books!
I think what it's important to remember is that the book is written from each character's point of view, not some omniscient, perfect narrator. The author intentionally gave the characters their own imperfections and flawed interpretations on the world. I think she did this in order to force us to see our own flawed logic when we find ourselves relating to the characters.
The characters are imperfect, just like the rest of us. I appreciate the realism. Also, we should note that each character learns by the end of the book that they have some views they need to reconsider.

By the way, I met the author at a book signing a few months ago-- she was super great! Just thought I'd share. :o)

7/25/2006 10:22:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Sorry, no Latino vampires in the book. :P

Welcome! You've met Alisa? Oh, i visited her website and she looks so young and very pretty!

I think it's safe to say that all of us enjoyed DIRTY GIRLS. It's really a fun read. I love hearing what everyone thinks of the book and its characters and the things they've observed while reading it. ;)

Hope you'll post often and do join us next time in our next BBC discussion. Don't worry, except for Trollop, no one here bites. :P

7/25/2006 10:40:00 PM  

Blogger Monica said...

I think the characters were somewhat stereotyped and some were over the top.

What I liked about this book was that she did write all the characters with distinct personality and style.

I also appreciated that this book wasn't a boring read. It moved and held my interest.

How Valdez highlighted that Latinas come in all flavors was great even if over the top as I mentioned.

Oh, and thanks to gun_wielding_bitch for the cracka point of view. Gotta have that.

7/26/2006 09:56:00 PM