Midnight Sandwiches at the Mariposa Express

Beatriz Rivera, Author
Beatriz Rivera, Author Arte Publico Press $11.95 (182p) ISBN 978-1-55885-216-7
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The engaging voice of Cuban immigrant Trish Izquierdo suffuses this first novel with a high-spirited intensity that manages to evoke the essence of an entire community. As town councilwoman in fictitious West Echevarria, N.J., Izquierdo enthusiastically plans an annual celebration and series of themed parades in an attempt to instill civic pride in the town's mostly Hispanic citizens. Writing with droll wit, Rivera creates a modern heroine who not only struggles to balance personal and professional commitments, but whose bicultural experience magnifies the intensity of her passions and neuroses. Despite serious underpinnings, the novel grows expansively funny, even quite daft, as Izquierdo negotiates political scandal, the stinging impertinence of her teenage daughter and an all-consuming jealousy toward the ex-husband with whom she continues to live. And she is just one of the patrons of the town's popular Mariposa Express, a cafeteria where everyone from the local artist to the parish priest is fodder for gossip. Against this backdrop, a large cast of endearingly self-absorbed characters struggle along in Rivera's sure-handed comedy as private fantasy, public aspiration and hard reality repeatedly collide. (Sept.)
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