March 16, 2015

REVIEW // RESEŇA: ¡A ESTUDIAR, CARAJO! by Ana María González


"La vida le pone situaciones por delante a las personas y no queda más que afrontarlas con entereza por debíl que uno crea que es."  //  "Life places people in difficult situations and the only recourse is to face them head-on no matter how weak one feels." --Ramona
¡El que persevera triumfa! // He who perseveres triumphs!
¡A ESTUDIAR, CARAJO! may be a short book -- 56 pages! -- put it packs a wallop.
Ana Maria Gonzalez' novel is about female empowerment; about perseverance; about overcoming all obstacles with determination and hard work.  It's about the immigrant experience; about racism; about tolerance; about survival. It's about being a woman, a mother, a student, a worker.
This novel is in Spanish.  It's written in the third person and is mostly narrative, but it contains a lot of action, a lot of living.  ¡A ESTUDIAR, CARAJO! is inspiring, empowering, and makes you want to cheer the protagonist and every hard-working, family-loving immigrant-woman on!
SUMMARY:  Ramona Padillo is the youngest of 10 children born to Dominican parents. Because she was born in Puerto Rico, the family is automatically granted permanent residence in the United States.  Shortly after her birth, her parents get divorce and her father moves to New York while her mother returns to Santo Domingo.  Her brothers grow and join their father in the U.S., but Ramona stays and does what girls are trained to do -- become a housewife.  She has two degrees -- secretarial and teaching -- yet her husband forbids her to work and insists she stay home and raise their kids. For 10 years, Ramona keeps her diplomas locked in a dresser draw and concentrates on her family.  Then her husband divorces hers.  Seeing her chance, Ramona follows her brothers to New York to make a new life for herself and her two kids.  But she wants more than to be a cashier at the local supermarket so she goes back to school.  She enrolls in a City study program for new immigrants.  Soon she is learning English and taking university classes.  She reads the classics, the New York Times; goes to museums and theatres; and through volunteering at her children's schools, learns all about the zoos, the aquarium and the botanical gardens.  Before she realizes it, school is over.  Ramona graduates with high marks and gets a job as an executive assistant.  But her trials are not over, for a jealous co-worker makes fun of her accent and tries to make her feel incompetent.  And when Ramona hears of a new course in getting rid of your accent, all she can think is:  ¡a estudiar, carajo!  //  Hell, it's time to study!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Ana María González is a Dominican author.  Her first novel, DEL SUELO AL CIELO, was written under the pseudonym of Virginia Gift.  It was won second place in the category of Best Novel Adventure / Drama in Spanish at the 14th Annual International Latino Book Awards.
Sinopsis:  ¡A ESTUDIAR, CARAJO! es la historia de una mujer decidida a superar los desafíos que conlleva la vida de inmigrante. La protagonista es dominicana como pudo haber sido de cualquier otra nacionalidad. La ciudad que la acoge es Nueva York como pudo haber sido cualquier otra en el mundo. El sufrimiento, la nostalgia, el amor y el desamor, el caerse y el levantarse, el estudiar y volver a estudiar, y volver a comenzar se tejen y entretejen en esta novela de una manera rítmica como si estuviéramos asistiendo a los eventos con Ramona, el personaje principal, quien decide usar la educación como camino a la superación.
DE EL AUTOR:  Ana María González es también la autora de Del suelo al cielo, escrita bajo el seudónimo de Virginia Gift, ganadora del segundo lugar en la categoría de novela drama / aventura en español en el International Latino Book Awards.