Sunday, August 2, 2009

Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz by Belinda Acosta

Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz cover

Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz
by Belinda Acosta

Trade Paperback: 315 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
First Released: 2009

Author Website

Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
Being a Woman is Never Easy...No Mater What Your Age

Ana Ruiz can't change the fact that her husband, Esteban, moved out or make their two children miss him less, but she can reach out to her angry and confused daughter, Carman. What better way to come together as a family than a traditional quinceañera?

Carmen blames her mother for her parents' separation, and Ana is torn between telling her daughter the truth--that Esteban was unfaithful--and protecting her from it. The advice Ana gets from friends and family also pulls her in two directions: Some urge her to get over Esteban's betrayal while others think she should get over him altogether and move on. As the quinceañera approaches, Ana realizes that Carmen isn't the only Ruiz who needs a lesson in what it means to be a strong and independent woman.

Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz is an insightful, touching, and sympathetically humorous novel. I loved all of the characters, which were complex and acted in realistic and understandable ways. The problems they faced were also realistically complex. The world-building was nice, and the pacing was very good.

The story is written with Spanish words and short Spanish phrases mixed in with the English. It helps if you know some Spanish, but the meaning was often clearly implied by the context or was made clear in the next sentence. Don't let the Spanish hold you back from reading the novel.

Occasionally, mild cuss words were used, and there were a few instances of swearing. There were some sexy descriptions and lustful thoughts, but no sex. (Well, technically, there was, but it's implied rather than explicit.) Many of the characters were Catholic to various degrees, but faith played little role in the story.

If any cussing, swearing, etc., bothers you, then you'll probably not enjoy this book. If you want every female main character who encounters a gorgeous and willing man to jump in bed with him, then you probably won't enjoy this book. The characters in this novel have their own beliefs and way of doing things; they don't act in a stereotypical fashion. I'd highly recommend this well-written, fairly clean read to anyone who thinks it sounds interesting.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Prologue
Don't let anyone tell you that being a woman is like – cómo se dice? – a piece of the cake. Mira, take a look around. All these niñitas dressed up like Barbie dolls outside of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, their toes scrunched into pointy high heels, hair pulled into tidy buns, bangs springing over their foreheads or hanging in gaunt strands alongside their girlish faces. The smell of hairspray and designer perfume, starched shirts and polished shoes mingle in the air. The matching boys are tucked into tuxedos looking like they want to be someplace else. They do! The Spurs game starts in thirty minutes. The limo driver allá, is looking at his watch for the same reason. And then there's pobrecita Ana Ruiz. That poor woman! All she wanted was to have a small quinceañera, a nice way to celebrate her niña Carmen con cariño. She wanted Carmen's fifteenth birthday to be special and lovely. Instead, there she is, the one in the lilac dress, her wavy hair going flat and her feet screaming from running around in heels, taking care of one disaster after the next. Today, she looks older than her thirty-eight years, weary from months of worry. The few streaks of gray she has, she got this month alone! Still, everything about Ana is soft—her hands, her laugh, the color of her amber skin. She has a small patch of dark skin below her ear that some women get when they have babies. But because Ana is what you would call pretty, you don't even notice. She's a good-looking woman; thin, but with meat in all the right places, as the men might say. For the women who need to be the center of attention when they walk into a room, Ana is the last one they worry about. They think, She's like a sugar cube – easy to melt with the heat they make with the sway of their nalgas or the heave of their chichis. But oh no! Ana is the one that surprises them. With those lips béseme, the whispery hollows of her cheeks, the way her neck curves like poured water, and finally, that look from her smoky black eyes – that alone will make some men walk into walls while the women, who thought they were the main dish at the party, will cluck to themselves and think, Her? Quién es esa?

You can tell right away that Ana Ruiz is respectable. She's no spring kitten, but she's way too young to cover it up in housedresses. But right now, Ana doesn't care what she looks like. She's wondering how this wonderful day turned to this. All she wanted was a little tradition, a nice way to mark this time in Carmen's life and maybe get back to the way things were before Esteban left.

Carmen is officially becoming a woman today, in a time when becoming a woman happens in a flurry like a million cascarones broken over your head. Just this week, she was figuring out the best way to brush her hair to make the tiara sit just so. Pero, no one knows where the tiara is now and Carmen doesn't even care. Today means nothing and everything to Carmen who, right now, only really wants to know, When will this pinche day be over?

Ana is standing near the door of the church. No one would be surprised if she snapped in two from all this drama! But no, like always, there she is: like a blade of grass in a hurricane. You can smash her down but she will never break. She's the one they call a strong woman, though she never understood why. She would say she only did what she had to do and that if patience and hard work are what it takes to be a strong woman, then okay, call her what you want. But right now, she feels spent. She feels like she might lose it. Her son, Diego, didn't come home last night, and Carmen has been barfing since midnight. The band that showed up is not the nice mariachi Ana thought was coming but three boys, one with tattoos on his arms and silver rings poked aquí y allá on his face and ears. And did I tell you about the cake? The cake is late. There was talk that there might not even be a cake, and well, you can't have a quinceañera without a cake, can you?

[...cut so you can read the end of the prologue...]

Pero, let me go back to the beginning. The very beginning, because híjole! I love a good quinceañera story. And I got to tell you this one.


jennilovevirgo said...

Very good review! I thought this was a great book. I've taken Spanish speaking classes, so I understood the few spanish words that were scattered throughout the novel, but agree that it wouldn't be difficult to figure out what was going on even if you can't read Spanish. I'm taking part in the blog tour for this novel on August 12th, so my review for it will be posted on that date over at Falling Off The Shelf. I'm looking forward to reading the next Quineanera novel.

Sheila (bookjourney) said...

I have this one to review yet. I like your review and am glad to hear that it is a pretty decent read.

:) Thanks!

Genre Reviewer said...

Thanks jennilovevirgo and Sheila for dropping by and leaving a comment!

I'll remember to drop by at the appropriate time to read your reviews. It'll be interesting to see what you thought about the book. :)

Anonymous said...

Being half Spanish myself that sounds like a good book. :) It certainly does help if you know the language. I think I'm going to see if I can get this book and read/review it. Thanks for the info.

Julie J. said...

I am about halfway through this book and will post my review on August 11 at

It looks like we read a lot of the same books! I just happened to stumble upon your site while I was surfing! Great reviews! :)

Genre Reviewer said...


Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I certainly thought this book was a good one, so I'll encourage you to give it a try since you think it sounds interesting. Enjoy.

Genre Reviewer said...

Julie J.,

Yes, it does seem like we read a lot of the same books. :) I'll drop by to read your review when it's up.

susan said...

Hi GR,

Thanks so much for dropping a link to this for Color Me Brown.

Enjoyed your review. I love discovering new authors and stories.

Don't be a stranger. Love having you.

Genre Reviewer said...


You're welcome. Thanks for running the challenge and for dropping by my blog!

I'm glad you enjoyed my review. I love discovering new authors, too. It's part of what I like best about being a book blogger.

I'll certainly be dropping by Color Online again.