June 6, 2011


The Latina Book Club congratulates Toni on her book debut. It’s a sexy collection and winner of the Miguel Mármol Prize, given to a “first work of fiction in English by a Latina/o writer that reflects a respect for intercultural understanding and fosters an appreciation for human rights and civil liberties." 

By Toni Margarita Plummer
Northwestern University Press, 2011

He was at long last kissing Andi Rowe… And he would think, afterward, that’s what happiness must have been. Like walking into quicksand and being sucked down whole, smooth and steady, knowing you were going somewhere, that struggle was useless, and that you would never be the same again. --“The Bolero of Andi Rowe”

This is a sexy collection of linked stories with the title character at its heart. Andi Rowe is a young woman -- much like the author --, who is half Mexican, half Irish, and straddles two cultural identities. Set mainly in South El Monte, California, these stories are about family, friends, faith, love and loss. They are emotional, gripping and, at times, heart breaking.

Toni Plummer gives her characters life and universal themes that will resonate within all of us. THE BOLERO OF ANDI ROWE is an excellent addition to every library; one to be savored again and again.

In “Forces,” we see Andi returning home from school in New York and trying to reconnect with old friends and the boy she left behind. In “All the Sex is West,” Andi tries to help her best friend Inez, who keeps looking for love in all the wrong places. In “Olivia’s Roses,” we meet Andi’s parents and learn how Olivia fell in love with the gringo her brother brought home from school.

Another two of my favorite stories in the collection are “The Desert in Green,” where we meet Noel Clark, a black Latino on border patrol, whose mother was once an illegal immigrant herself; and “What Would Mary Do: A Christmas Story,” where Dulce, a lonely old maid finally finds the courage to talk about her desires.♥

For The Latina Book Club’s interview with the author, click here.

Book provided by author; review provided by The Latina Book Club.