Wanted: Instructional Coordinator Turkish Language Cluster Mail resume to: Cosmos Foundation 9431 W. Sam Houston Pkwy. S., #202 Houston, TX 77099 Attn: Mr. Almus. Ref. to Ad#FK. TheTexasObserver The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas & The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History UT Austin Invite you to celebrate the life of Molly Ivins Meet the authors, buy the book and mingle with Molly’s friends and admirers at the 1st book-signing party for the new biography of our dear departed Molly. “Molly Ivins: A Rebel Life” by Bill Minutaglio & W. Michael Smith 5:30 8 p.m. Thursday, November 12, 2009 Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto, Austin Free parking in state garages after 5 p.m. Cash food/bar Bill Minutaglio and W Michael Smith Job in Austin. LIFE HAS NOT BEEN EASY FOR MANZ. HIS FATHER WAS KILLED YEARS EARLIER IN A CAR ACCIDENT; HIS HALF-BROTHER WAS STILLBORN; HIS MOTHER IS A RAGING ALCOHOLIC; HIS BEST FRIEND JED GETS THE SHIT KICKED OUT OF HIM BY HIS FATHER REGULARLY; AND MANZ HAS BEGUN HEARING VOICES. Like Border Crossing, native Texan Diana Lopez’s first young adult novel, Confetti Girl, is set in a largely Hispanic part of the state. The first-person narrator, Lina Flores, also recently has lost a parent. This is where the similarities end. Confetti Girl is as light and airy and, well, confetti-like as Border Crossing is dark and edgy. The tone is clear from the first sentence: “Some people collect coins or stamps, but I collect socks.” Lina lives with her English teacher father in a house with no television. Her best friend, Vanessa, lives across the street with a mother who, since her divorce, has become obsessed with making cascarones, confetti-filled eggshells one cracks over another’s head as a joke. It doesn’t take long to suspect a Parent Trap-like setup is in the works. The narrative is energized by typical issues of young adulthood: sports wins and defeats, crushes on boys, jealousies and failing grades. All the while, the underlying issue is the death of Lina’s mother. Lopez weaves this theme of grief through the book in a subtle, often lovely way: “My tears plot into the ocean. I’ve tasted tears before. They’re salty, just like the water below, and I wonder if the ocean is made of tears from the people and all the animals that have lost their mothers?’ A pleasant read overall, the novel still has cringeworthy moments, from hokey characterizations that verge on affectation, such as the father who quotes literature at what seems like every possible moment. For Lina’s science project, she learns that whooping cranes mate for life. Her caricature-of-a-father immediately channels Shakespeare’s Sonnet ii6 “… so they understand. Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom!’ The book is sprinkled with Spanish dichosa great idea, though it becomes annoying when each is immediately translated, preventing readers from extrapolating from context or consulting the glossary at the end of the book. In contrast to Border Crossing’s classic Texas aesthetic and tense struggle with race issues, Confetti Girl thrives on references to national pop culture, such as the television show Ugly Betty, and seems secure in the Latino presence permeating Corpus Christi. Both books succeed at their different purposes, but Border Crossing is the novel whose prose is more likely to stick with the reader and whose story you’ll almost certainly want to pass on to those YA readers in your life, young or old. Mary Helen Specht will be moderating the session “Elizabeth Berg and Amanda Eyre Ward in Conversation” at the Texas Book Festival. Find her online at maryhelenspecht.com OCTOBER 30, 2009 TEXASOBSERVER.ORG 33
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