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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Module 5: The Tequila Worm

Module 5: Other Award Winners 


The Tequila Worm
Author: Viola Canales

Book Summary:
The Tequila Worm follows a young girl named Sofia through her young adulthood. She starts out as a young girl practicing for her first communion and eventually becomes a young woman with a scholarship to a private high school with her pick of the “big three” colleges to attend. Sofia is close to her family, and the book follows her through many family events such as her cousin’s quinceanera, the Day of the Dead celebrations, and the Christmas traditions in which Sofia is made the Christmas madrina. Sofia is away from home throughout the story, but she is not without a cure for her homesickness. All she must do to feel better is eat the tequila worm.

APA Book Reference:
Canales, V. (2005). The tequila worm. New York, NY: Wendy Lamb Books.

 I’m going to be honest and admit that the only reason I wanted to read this book was the title. I assumed a book entitled The Tequila Worm would be an interesting read, but I had no idea what the meaning behind it was. I know now that the significance of the tequila worm is that eating it cures homesickness. I loved that the notion of eating the tequila worm kept coming up throughout various parts of the story. Something that surprised me about this book was how it was emotionally compelling. I thought it would be a quick read about a family with facts about the Mexican American culture thrown in, but this book had me crying by the end (maybe I shouldn’t have been reading it at work). The characters are so relatable, and the situations (growing up, leaving home, family obligations) are also relatable to people from any culture who read this book. I also knew that the Spanish language would be featured in the book, but I was not overwhelmed by the Spanish that was sprinkled throughout. In fact, it added to the culture of the story.

Professional Review:
Engberg, G. (2005). The tequila worm [Review of the book The Tequila Worm]. Booklist Online.  Retrieved from: http://www.booklistonline.com/The-Tequila-Worm-Viola-Canales/pid=1504439
“From an early age, Sofia has watched the comadres in her close-knit barrio community, in a small Texas town, and she dreams of becoming “someone who makes people into a family,” as the comadres do. The secret, her young self observes, seems to lie in telling stories and “being brave enough to eat a whole tequila worm.” In this warm, entertaining debut novel, Canales follows Sofia from early childhood through her teen years, when she receives a scholarship to attend an exclusive boarding school. Each chapter centers on the vivid particulars of Mexican American traditions--celebrating the Day of the Dead, preparing for a cousin’s quinceanera. The explanations of cultural traditions never feel too purposeful; they are always rooted in immediate, authentic family emotions, and in Canales’ exuberant storytelling, which, like a good anecdote shared between friends, finds both humor and absurdity in sharply observed, painful situations--from weathering slurs and other blatant harassment to learning what it means to leave her community for a privileged, predominately white school. Readers of all backgrounds will easily connect with Sofia as she grows up, becomes a comadre, and helps rebuild the powerful, affectionate community that raised her.”

Library Uses:
This book could be used in libraries to teach children about the Mexican American culture. It could also be used in part to teach children about how to deal with homesickness when they are away from home.

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