“Big Chicas Don’t Cry” by Annette Chavez Macias is a sweet tale about four cousins who were once as close as sisters, but through life experiences, romantic relationships (or lack thereof), and professional pursuits have lost a bit of that closeness. One of them, Marisol, is not speaking to her cousins. Erica was just dumped by her boyfriend of two years (and right at Christmas!), Selena is frustrated by the blatant racism she encounters at work and wary of entering into a romantic relationship because of a past breakup, and Gracie would love a relationship but has no prospects.
Each chapter is presented from one of the cousins’ point of view—all in first person narrative. To be honest, at times I had to refer to the heading at the start of each chapter to see who was “talking.” That’s often a problem with books written with multiple narrators. But to hear the POV of each was worth the occasional confusion, I think. We feel like we get to know the cousins better and understand what they are going through as each experiences challenges and must make some difficult choices.
The take away, obviously, is that family is important, and that no matter how far away you are, when you love those in your family you find ways to stay close to them. No matter what. And that’s what these women realize—that no matter how long it’s been since they’ve talked, no matter how different their life choices, no matter where they decide their future must take them—they must be there for each other. Always.
Lots of books have this theme regarding the importance of family, so why read this one? It’s an emotional story as we get to know the four women and their feelings and their fears. And I really enjoyed the reality that while many of us automatically think that Hispanic-looking people speak Spanish, that’s not necessarily the case. I made that error in Guanajuato, Mexico, at a small hotel, when our neighbors were a dark-haired Hispanic family. I started speaking to them in Spanish and they gave me a blank stare. They were from Texas and didn’t speak Spanish at all. Horribly embarrassing, but I learned my lesson—don’t assume. The book presents the reverse language snobbery when unthinking white people blame the parents for not teaching the women Spanish at home, yet the parents spoke English at home because they wanted to learn English. If the children had been raised speaking Spanish at home and started school with no or little English, imagine the other complaints. Sometimes with judgmental people, you can’t win.
There’s also a lot of forgiveness going on in this story. And that’s important because don’t we always make mistakes that we might need forgiveness for? After finishing this fairly quick read, you will be glad you got to know these Big Chicas (big girls).
Please note: This review is based on the advanced reader’s copy provided by the publisher, Montlake, for review purposes.