March 1, 2013

BOOK OF THE MONTH: WE LOVE JENNI by Marc Shapiro and Charlie Vasquez




“My life has been very crazy and difficult… Difficult but happy.” – Jenni


Riverdale Avenue Books
released February 26, 2013

Like many people, I too discovered Jenni Rivera too late. It wasn’t until her plane crashed that I first heard of "La Diva de la Banda". Another Latina Super Star who’s life had been cut short.  Comparisons to Selena cannot be helped – both Mexican American, both Super Stars, both pioneers in music, both lost too soon. However, Jenni was older and more ...scandalous.

WE LOVE JENNI is an unauthorized biography of the late star by New York Times' bestselling author Marc Shapiro and Charlie Vasquez.  Shapiro is known for his bestselling biographies of J.K. Rowling and Justin Bieber.  Vasquez is a well-known journalist.

The authors relied heavily on third-party accounts about Jenni, specifically quotes from Elijah Wald, who knew her personally and who wrote the tell-all book of narcocorrida, the new genre of music about "drugs, guns and guerrillas."

I'm sure this is the first of many Jenni biographies to come.  WE LOVE JENNI is a short biography with lots of facts in chrological order.  However, Jenni's passionate and vibrant nature comes through in the writing.  Her love of family and her entrepreneurial spirit shine. 

WE LOVE JENNI reads like a telenovela -- the husbands, the fame, the fights, the court trials, the scandals. Jenni would have loved it.  I just wish it came with pictures and a couple of songs.


SUMMARY:   Jenni Rivera was the middle child of five in clan Rivera. Her parents, Pedro and Rosa, had left Mexico for the promise of America. Jenni was the first of their children to be born in the “new world”. The family lived in the poor “barrio” of Long Beach, California. Her brother called it a ghetto, where people were getting killed every two or three hours. Jenni preferred to remember the good parts, that the family “lived economically limited, but always happy.”

Jenni never wanted to be a singer. It was her father, Don Pedro, who was the frustrated artist. He insisted on Spanish only at home and only played traditional Mexican music -- norteños and mariachi. He sang at a local café and even sold some singles, which gave him the idea of starting his own record label, Cintas Acquario.

Jenni was more interested in school than in singing. She was an A student, which was unheard for the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She got pregnant at 15, which was expected of the daughter of Mexican immigrants.

Jose Trinidad Marin was a macho husband, who wanted his wife to stay home and keep house. Jenni was determined to finish high school and did so behind his back. Jose was verbally and physically abusive but Jenni hit back. She stayed with him through high school, college and the birth of three kids.

By 1992, she was divorced, but there was no time to be depressed for she had three kids to feed and nurture. While her father’s record label was taking off and her older brother was become a recording star, Jenni was selling real estate.

Jenni recorded her first album as a birthday present to her father. She insisted that she was not a singer but she wrote songs. Her father sold copies of her album and soon she was getting requests to appear at local venues. At first she did it for the money to put food on the table, but soon she was singing and performing because she liked it.

Mexican music was dominated by men, but Jenni was fearless. They were mean, bad hombres. Well, she could be just as tough. Her songs were about party girls, who drank, partied hard and were not afraid to enjoy life.

Her shows became known as “The Jenni Experience.” Men were brought up from the audience, sat and tied down, while Jenni sang to them and gave them a lap dance. She did tequila shots with the audience while performing, and there were a few brawls on stage with fans.

But Jenni could sing. She played for crowds on both sides of the border and they loved her. She sold 15 million albums and won Latin Grammys in 2003, 2008 and 2010.

And as her star rose so did the scandals -- sexual abuse, drug trafficking, a sex tape. Through it all, Jenni did her best to protect her children, while owning up to her mistakes and daring the world to make something out of her private business.

Jenni always found solace in her music and in giving back to her community. Soon bigger record labels were courting her. Ricky Martin was calling about a duet. And her reality TV show, I Love Jenni, was a huge hit.

2013 was going to be her year. Jenni was set to star in a movie with Edward James Olmos this April; she was going to have her own TV talk show a la Oprah; and she was finally going to do an English album.

Jenni’s dreams were cut short on December 9, 2012.  She and her entourage were on the way to another show when their plane crashed.  Suddenly Jenni’s star shone bright and the world turned to watch… a little too late.###


To get your copy of WE LOVE JENNI, visit Riverdale Avenue Books by clicking here.

To visit Jenni Rivera's official website, click here.



BIOS:

With more than twenty-five years, covering film, television and music for national and international newspapers and magazines, Marc Shapiro is the author of J.K. ROWLING: THE WIZARD BEHIND HARRY POTTER, JUSTIN BIEBER, THE FEVER! and other bestselling celebrity biographies.

Charlie Vásquez is a Bronx-born journalist, novelist, poet and cultural producer. He is also the author of two novels and a collection of bilingual poetry. Additionally, he has edited two anthologies of new Latino literature, has lectured at universities and cultural institutions in the United States, Mexico and Puerto Rico and is the New York City coordinator for Puerto Rico's "The Word/Festival de la Palabra."

Riverdale Avenue Books publisher Lori Perkins said, "Jenni was an everywoman in the Latin music scene and was about to become the next Oprah with her ABC television show. With her dynamic, honest and powerful personality she was poised to further change the way we view Hispanic women. As a feminist, and the mother of a Hispanic-American, I am really glad to be publishing this book."