Monday, February 16, 2009
Houston, We Have a Problema - Gwendolyn Zepeda
Houston, We Have a Problema is Zepeda's first adult fiction foray.
Jessica Luna is a 26 year old single Latina woman living in Houston. She has trouble making decisions and counts on fortune teller Madame Hortensia to guide her. She's bored with her seemingly dead end insurance job, frustrated with her artist lover Guillermo and tired of her mom and sister trying to set her up with a 'nice' man.
Although this has all the promise of a good chick lit novel, it fell a short for me. I just couldn't make a connection with Jessica's character. I found her to be shallow and vapid, not the endearing protagonist I'd hoped for.
As her sister says " ...you're selfish, you're spoiled and I'm sick of it."
I found the writing to be somewhat forced and contrived. The supporting characters were themselves caricatures - the bad boy sexy lover, the gay best friend, the lazy co workers, the uptight white guy. Which brings up an underlying theme of the book. Jessica herself says "She wasn't racist, of course, but she had to admit to herself that she had issues about dating a white guy." I think the book would have been much better had it explored such preconceptions, race and relationship issues rather than trying so hard to be humourous. The second half of the book is much better as Jessica does make inroads towards self awareness and fulfillment. I did enjoy her work with the arts centre. However, I felt the book ended on a sour note, with Jessica taking two steps backwards.
Lots of readers have enjoyed this book - it just didn't grab me. I'd recommend The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters instead.
Zepeda is a blogger - you can read her here.