by Veronica Chambers
Kindle, 208 Pages
Published May 9th 2017 by Delacorte Press
She is the envy of every teenage girl in Mexico City. Her mother is a glamorous telenovela actress. Her father is the go-to voice-over talent for blockbuster films. Hers is a world of private planes, chauffeurs, paparazzi and gossip columnists. Meet Camilla del Valle—Cammi to those who know her best.
When Cammi’s mom gets cast in an American television show and the family moves to LA, things change, and quickly. Her mom’s first role is playing a not-so-glamorous maid in a sitcom. Her dad tries to find work but dreams about returning to Mexico. And at the posh, private Polestar Academy, Cammi’s new friends assume she’s a scholarship kid, the daughter of a domestic.
I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for honest review.
I think this book is one of those books that actually meant good, to tell the story of the immigrants and how their different their life is and to wake us from stereotyping and everyday racism we encounter/do. But it missed the mark for me and it ended up feeling pretty pointless and racist, the very thing it tried to avoid.
REVIEW RANT WILL PRETTY MUCH SPOIL THE WHOLE BOOK. UNMARKED SPOILERS BECAUSE IT’S RANT EVERYWHERE. YE HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Camilla del Valle is the daughter of famous telenovela actress, Carolina del valle. This has created some problems with her social life: everyone is startruck whenever they met her mother and her latest bestfriend ruined her mother career. When their family moved to us to shoot for her mother latest project, Camilla jumped at the prospect of fresh start. Surrounded by rich kids who assumed she’s a stereotypical mexican- coming from poor family, on scholarship, her mother is a maid and her father is a security- Camilla decided to play along. She got friends who befriended her without her mother’s shadow, but will the friendship last when they find out her lies?
Let’s start with the writing. At first it was okay, but the more I read, the more I realize how autobiographical the writing is. It feels like camilla is recounting her life story, sometimes delving into details like “when we were eating mcd, and i’ve ate there with my dad before and we usually….” before getting back to what she was eating there without his father. It’s also more show than tell, which is never a good thing in a book. I understand that before this book, the author’s previous books were memoir, but it just doesn’t feel like the right writing style for this book.
The Mexico part was interesting and funny. Seeing the glitz and glamour of the telenovela industry really wows me. I grew up watching them and I knew how many episodes there are, imagine how long does it took to complete a series. It also discuss the other side of the industry: the pressure, the diet, and the constant attention. On more personal side, it give a glimpse that behind that superstar facade, Carolina is only a mother, and a dramatic one at that. i think my favorite scene is when her mother revealed they are moving to LA… so dramatic😂
The second part, or the LA, is where the book went downhill, because it’s also where everything start to miss the mark. Let me just put it in bullet points because there are just so many wrong things in this part.
- Cami’s friends instantly assume that she’s the “stereotypical mexican” and Cami decided to go along with it to “teach her friends a lesson”. The thing is, her friends are actually nice. I honestly think since Cami never dispute their assumption, they tried to help Cami as best as they can while being curious of how her life is, seeing that they come from privileged family. As the story goes, you can see that her motives changes from “teaching lessons” to “gain pity”. She actually liked it when people pity her. She pretend to be poor to get attention, without regards on how actual immigrants lived. The worst thing is, she has this mexican friend who’s actually not as privileged as her and as much as Cami promised her she will tell the truth because it hurt her, Cami never did. That’s so messed up.
- Cami never actually tell her friends, the mexican friend (I can’t even bother to remember the name of the characters anymore) exposed her.
- Cami still don’t think she’s that guilty. Whenever she’s apologizing with her friends, she’ll throw the “I did this because you guys were assuming and say some racist shit” arguments. At this point, I’m so ready to delete this book from my kindle.
- One of her friend is no better either. She forgive Cami easily because “PoC should stick together” and “I’m also PoC so I can’t be racist” then proceed to team up with Cami to attack the other girl she lied to, who happens to be white. This really make me angry because this is such a bullshit. PoC can be racist too. I mean, don’t you ever heard about some Asian countries beneath the others because they are “too primitive” or “not light enough”?
- Her friends are so easy to forgive Cami. I honestly think there should be someone who won’t forget Cami to teach HER a lesson.
So overall, while the beginning was funny and really good, the second part was very flawed. It annoyed me to no end and I’m honestly glad it was over. I know this book meant well, trying to tell the stories of the immigrant finding pieces of their life from the “before” and “after”. But in the end, it missed the mark spectacularly and ended up being racist with a very unlikeable main character. This is definitely not like Jane the Virgin at all.