cover image Give It to Me

Give It to Me

Ana Castillo. Feminist, $24.95 (262p) ISBN 978-1-55861-863-3

Castillo (The Guardians) is highly acclaimed for an adventurous and exquisite use of language in her plays, poetry, essays, and novels, but this latest novel misses the mark. Palma Piedras, who is over 40 and recently divorced, allows her sexual interest in her younger cousin, Pepito, to both flare up and quickly peak when he is released from prison. Sex is the only way that Palma can relate to anyone else, despite a strict upbringing by her grandmother. It’s tempting to call her an unreliable narrator, but the book isn’t necessarily told from her point of view. The reader hovers somewhere above the action through the essay-like narration, as Palma flits from bed to bed, lover to lover, in New Mexico, L.A., and Chicago. Yet even in bed, Palma finds little genuine sense of connection to those around her. Unfortunately, readers may feel equally distant from her, partly due to such distracting stylistic choices as a lack of quotation marks and repeated references to Palma by her full name. Another issue, though, is the nature of Castillo’s heroine, who invariably makes the poorest choice available and then wonders why things aren’t going better. The result is a lack of both character growth and narrative drive. (May)