A Latina Story by Sandra C. Lopez Genre: Teen Fiction
Fourteen-year old Esperanza Ignacio could only think of a few words to sum up her life: crap, crap, crap! She was born into a poor Latino family living in a small crummy apartment in the barrio side of town, where the graffiti chiseled more the souls and character of the residents than it impacted the exterior looks of the buildings. Her father was a drunken gambler, and wife-beater who, one cold night, got arrested after a violent intrusion. Her entire circle of relatives consisted of nothing but formers- former drug-addicts, former gangsters and gang-bangers, former alcoholics, former everything. Yep, her life was nothing but a huge load of crap. And she hadn't even started high school yet.
After surviving a scorching summer heat, Esperanza enters the unfamiliar world of high-school with a tight knot in her stomach. On the very first day, she is sucked into a blunder of catastrophic events beginning with accidentally running into the world's BIGGEST bully. Now, she has made herself the prime target for a main course. And, to top it all off, she has to see this girl everyday in P.E! P.E.-the one class Esperanza truly despises the most. Could life be any worse for her? Well, her family could take in a relative hopped up on drugs, a probable shooting can take place right in front of her, and Esperanza could also sit and listen to the crazed ranting of her loud psychotic mother. Oh, wait, all that does happen. To make things even easier, her best friend, Carla, won't stop trying to marry her off to her twin brother, Carlos. And she has these two puny siblings constantly vying for her attention. God, it's a wonder she doesn't strap herself in a straight jacket and pretend to be Elvis. Nonetheless, Esperanza attempts to get through it all. She is a smart and ambitious young kid struggling to survive her life while fighting to make her mark on the world. Her story is filled with pain, strength, and too much loud bickering. It carries a voice enriched with barrio slang and sarcastic humor. Esperanza illustrates what persistent Latino youth can achieve when they get back up after a fall and keep on walking straight into college.
"Esperanza is an admirable and too real story of many Latino youths lacking role models, who find themselves lost and isolated in the paved jungles of the inner cities and overwhelmed by the dissonance of barrio life. Sandra C. Lopez has created a resilient and likeable character, Esperanza, who seems closer to a naked truth-seeker than to a barrio kid-desperately trying to get out of a crappy world, but not knowing exactly where she was going to. Highly Recommended."
Andrea Alessandra, University of California, Berkeley
"Sandra López is a fresh and resonant voice from the Hispanic rainbow."
Ray Michael Baca Author-"Brotherhood of the Light"
Sandra C. López is a writer, artist, blogger, and book reviewer. She is one of today's funny and influential authors in YA and chick lit. Her first novel, Esperanza, was published in March 2008 WHILE she was still in college. Her most recent and bestselling book is Single Chicas, a collection of humorous short stories about zany chicas. She is currently working on the next installment of the Single Chicas series called Holiday Chicas. Release date coming soon! When not writing her stories, Sandra supports the art and literary communities with freelance work, book promotion, and running a Read and Review Program. For more info, see below:
For those of you who have heard be speak at a book signing or an author panel, then you know the story of how I got into the writing gig. But for those of you who are just joining us, I’ll tell it again.
I started writing my first teen fiction novel, Esperanza, when I entered my first year of junior college, fresh out of high school. The book was about a 14-year old Mexican-American girl who wanted to get out of the barrio and make something of her life. I wrote this story without the help of a computer while taking a full load of classes 5 days a week. When I finally finished it, I stacked it on the shelf so it could collect dust forever. I had absolutely NO intention of having it published as being an author was something I thought I could never do when I was growing up. But, one day, I decided to pitch it to some publishing houses out there. Out of 40 letters I sent out, 35 came back rejected and the rest didn’t come back at all. I was about to give up on the whole thing when I got a call from the editor of Floricanto Press asking to see the rest of my manuscript. Four months later, I received a contract. Then two years after that, I was holding my first published book. And all this happened WHILE I was still in college!
Since then, I have written a sequel to my first book called Beyond the Gardens, and graduated with a Bachelors degree from Cal State Fullerton. To this day, I spend my free time visiting colleges and local libraries talking about my books and the writing process.
A common misconception most people have about authors is that they are rich. That’s so not true. I don’t have a butler or a chauffeur or diamond earrings or a mansion made out of gold. Would I like to have all that? Hell yeah! Yes, I would like to be on the best-seller’s list. Yes, I would like my books to be transformed into movies. And, yes, I would like to make all that money from just sitting on my butt and writing! But, alas, like most other writers, I do have a day job. I just do events whenever I can.
Now, I don’t think much has changed since I got into the writing business. I mean, it’s not like I get stopped on the streets whenever a fan recognizes me. I’m still living a normal, everyday life. The only difference is that I get asked for autographs more often. Let me tell you, it’s way different than when you had to sign yearbooks in school. And I feel honored every time.
But does this make me a “celebrity?” Well, a few people do, especially the kids. I actually came back a “celebrity” when I went to go visit my old school district.
Sometime ago, I got an email from a lady that works for the district. She was ecstatic to learn from the internet that I was from the local area and now an AUTHOR. She called me a great role model for young kids and absolutely insisted that I meet up with her to discuss a possibility of talking to the classrooms of the district. So that's what I did.
I met up with Ann (that's her name, BTW), who hit the floor at the first sight of me (maybe I should've brushed my hair or something, or it might have something to do with the fact that I'm some sort of celebrity now.) Anyway, after she breathed a few times, I proceeded to talk about how I got started in writing and what, if anything, led me to take on this goal when I was in school. For a second, I thought Ann was going to have a stroke. Apparently, she couldn't contain herself because before I could even say anything else, she rushed to the phone to ask if the superintendent could spare a few moments to meet me at that point. Then ten minutes later, we met up with the superintendent, who I relayed my life story and writing career to. Both of them were so amazed by my accomplishment that they purchased 8 copies of my books right on the spot. Even the secretary was in awe. And when I told him that I was the designer of my website, they were that much more impressed.
By the end of the meeting, they referred me as "a product of their school system." It actually made me wonder: Did I have anything to do this, or was it all them?
In any sense, it was good to go back and recall all those memories in school. I even met up with my old Vice Principal in Jr. High. Of course, he didn't remember me, but I remembered him (vaguely). See, I'm not that old.
It's going to be great to speak to the students next year. I will tell all of them that it IS possible to make something of yourself and come back a celebrity.
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