Mercy, the family matriarch, rules over her three daughters not with an iron hand but with a constant hope that they’ll find happiness. Mercy’s secrets are old ones. They can’t help but bubble up when crisis arrives. And crisis arrives over and over again.
In fact, so many crises occur in The Amado Women that almost anything I can say is a spoiler. I can tell you it’s clear early on that the oldest daughter, Celeste, and her youngest sister, Nataly, are barely speaking to each other. I could even tell you why, but why ruin your fun? What’s more interesting is that this deep rift is settled before the biggest crisis comes, and that may surprise you because so many crises pop up before this one is settled. This means high point after high point, accompanied by the reader’s gasp. I picture Zamorano at her desk, saying to herself, “Okay, how can I make things worse for this character?”
Celeste is smart, stylish, and good with money, but won’t let a man into her life. Nataly lets the wrong man into her life, and can’t seem to get her career moving. Sylvia, the middle sister, is a mother and a peacemaker, the latter of which sometimes serves her and sometimes doesn’t.
Don’t let the title mislead you. The Amado women have men in their lives, all interesting characters who take the story to new levels whenever they’re on the page. Celeste moves to a new office and finds lasting friendship there. Nataly’s wrong man shows up at the wrong time. Mercy’s ex, the father of her daughters and a sweet, sad louse, is inappropriate at best, incredibly selfish at worst. And every time Sylvia’s unpredictable husband Jack appears on the scene, the temperature of the story shoots higher.
Oh—and I almost forgot to mention, these women are Latinas.
I once knew a woman whose last name was Amado. She lived in a fancy high rise on West Wilshire Blvd. I did office work for her, work she was entirely capable of doing herself, but because she could afford to pay an assistant, she did. That was many years ago and there are many sophisticated Latinas like her, yet Latinas are still portrayed in the media as maids and hookers. Zamorano’s Amado Women are individuals. Don’t you dare stereotype these Latinas “fiery.”
The Amado women are family first. They are women next. They are Latinas, too, and this is part of the story but it’s not the story. These are the women on my block (well, maybe they live on a fancier block), they’re the women in my community, they’re my friends. And although their heritage matters, what matters most to them is each other.
Zamorano will discuss and sign The Amado Women on Wednesday, July 30th at 7 p.m. Location: Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena 91101. Find details at VromansBookstore.com.
Petrea Burchard is a Pasadena photographer, blogger, actress, voice-over talent and author. Her story “Portraits” is included in Literary Pasadena (Prospect Park Books, 2013). She contributes book reviews to Hometown Pasadena, for which we and our readers are very grateful. Find more Petrea doings, writings, and photography at PetreaBurchard.com and LivingVicuriously.
Camelot & Vine can be bought locally at Vroman’s, the Pasadena Museum of History, Webster’s Fine Stationers in Altadena and the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeeshop. The ebook version is available for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Diesel, Smashwords, and the Sony eReader.