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Playing with Boysby Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of The Dirty Girls Social Club comes another fast, funny, soulful, and sexy novel about friendship and love amid Latinas.
It's a jungle out there--in Los Angeles, that is, where the tangle of freeways and ingrained insincerity can make a girl feel very alone, no matter how fabulous the weather or how cute the clothes at the South Coast Plaza mall. With very different styles and attitudes, Marcella, Olivia, and Alexis are trying to crack the code in L.A, trying to snare love and success. But first they have to come together--to make their marks and plan the fun they're going to have along the way.
Marcella is a hot, sharp young television actress who's barely able to enjoy the life she's bought for herself and certainly isn't enjoying her body, which is never quite perfect enough. Olivia, whose life revolves around her toddler son, Jack, is tethered to her suburban mommy track so tightly she can almost forget the horrible thing that happened to her family when she was a child herself. Alexis is a musicians' manager with a smart mouth, an ample body, and loads of style but barely enough self-esteem to fill a Prada card case. And the boys in their lives? Marcella's had about enough of them throwing themselves at her; Olivia's boy is her son; and Alexis is still searching, not for a boy this time, but for a man.
Playing with Boys is a savvy novel with charm, style, and heart to spare.
"Three very different Latina women vow to bring Los Angeles to its collective knees in this funny, guilty pleasure of a novel, which bears some resemblance to its author's previous hit, The Dirty Girls Social Club. Dallas-born talent agent Alexis Lopez is trying to break her fellow Meximericans, a band called Los Chimpances del Norte, into the big-time spotlight, but she's also looking for new blood. Enter Marcella Gauthier Bosch, a half-French bad-girl actress, once a star of Spanish-language soap operas and now aching for a mainstream movie career that doesn't involve being cast as a maid or a hooker. All she needs is a serious, Latina-focused script — and that's where Olivia Reyes comes in. The shy, dowdy stay-at-home mom is still traumatized by the memory of seeing her father gunned down by Salvadoran soldiers. But she also has a serious, autobiographical screenplay, and Alexis convinces her to let Alexis show it around — with the idea that Marcella will be perfect as Soledad, Olivia's mother. Complications abound, of course — there's Olivia's cheating husband, Marcella's disdain for men in general and a Cuban rap star who seems determined to break Alexis's heart — but so do the laughs. There's Alexis's middle-aged white ex-boyfriend who thinks he's a teenage gangsta, Marcella's latent-goth suitor and the good ol' hard-drinking, beer-gutted, coke-addled Mexican boys of Los Chimpances del Norte. While the action is slow and the novel repetitive in places — Alexis turns whining about her small breasts into an art form — this is a funny, heartfelt piece of escapism, Latina-style. Agent, Leslie Daniels.(On sale Sept. 7) Forecast:With an eight-city author tour, national publicity and a 250,000-copy first printing, there'll be no sophomore slump here. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Valdes-Rodriguez lays on the irony with a trowel and makes the same points repeatedly: people with Spanish surnames come from different places...American racism is endemic, and clueless white people never get the slang right." Kirkus Reviews
"Playing with Boys will keep one absorbed until the very end. The author does a good job describing Southern California....The many different characters, both major and minor, are fun, fully developed and real." BookReporter
"Valdes-Rodriguez does a fine job here confronting stereotypes with a sharp cheekiness....The problem is, Valdes-Rodriguez's characters remain one-note, and they quickly become tiresome." Chicago Sun-Times
"Playing with Boys succeeds in creating less stereotypical characters [than The Dirty Girls Social Club], but the plot lacks the complexity needed to make the story compelling." Miami Herald
"The problem with Playing With Boys is that, while we enjoy seeing these very likable characters triumph, Rodriguez's idea of 'making it' is grounded in wish-fulfillment. Her book never rises above the level of pandering." Dallas-Ft. Worth Star Telegram
The vibrant new novel by the bestselling author of The Dirty Girls Social Club.
The vibrant new tale by the bestselling author of The Dirty Girls Social Club
Alisa Valdes-Rodriguezs first novel caused a sensation when it was published last year. Listeners flocked to the story of six friends in Boston because Valdes-Rodriguez created utterly fresh voices and characters.
In Alisa-Valdes Rodriguezs delicious new novel, three friends—each a Latina in her late 20s—take Los Angeles by storm. Marcella, Olivia, and Alexis have bonded not only over trouble with men but about how tough it is to make life work in L.A. no matter what you do. Marcella is a hot young television actress, hardly able to enjoy the life shes bought for herself, and shes certainly not enjoying her body, which is never quite perfect enough. Olivias tethered to her toddler son and her suburban mommy track so tightly the other girls sometimes cringe. Alexis has a smart mouth, an ample body, and a great job, but about enough self-esteem to fill a Prada card case. The emotional richness and girly fun of the heroines friendship will delight listeners.
Praise for The Dirty Girls Social Club:
"...a fresh spin on the best-of-friends novel that's funny, touching, and exhilarating. A winner!"
- Jennifer Crusie, author of Faking It
"Don't dare lump this novel in with...Sex and the City knockoffs. Yes, it's a compulsive beach read, but the women are smart, brassy, and messy enough to make you pause mid-sunscreen slathering."
- Entertainment Weekly
"The feel of a night out with the girls...charming...undeniably fun."
- Miami Herald
"This lively debut novel...reads like the Hispanic version of Waiting to Exhale."
- New York
About the Author
Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez is an award-winning print and broadcast journalist and a former staff writer for both the Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Playing with Boys is her second novel.
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