Queen of the Flowers, Memories of a Puerto Rican Girl by Delia Cerpa
Published 2019 by 3L Publishing
Genre: Memoir, Coming of Age
I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Plot in brief: This is the story of Delia Cerpa, known to her family as Garin, the youngest of 10 ten children. Garin’s father commits suicide when she is just a baby, leaving her mother to raise her kids and run their small family farm alone. Garin’s world is a tropical paradise, despite having no electricity or running water. Her book describes a life of subsistence farming in a close knit family, supported by their local community. Garin shares the story of her life in Puerto Rico until she and her mother immigrated to New York, when she was 13 years old, to join her siblings already living in the Bronx.
Characters: Garin shares her family with us, especially her mother, the Widow Cerpa, a strong woman, who survives in a male-dominated culture. We get to know her siblings, from the oldest, Juan, who takes over as head of the family to the second youngest Maria Mercedes, as they grow to adulthood. We also meet many relatives, neighbors and teachers along the way. Cerpa describes a unique way of life, almost unknown in our busy modern world. Despite being poor, they were rich in love and family.
The Writing: So what’s not to like about this book? In a word, the prose. The book reads as if written by the 13-year-old Delia and not a woman with a PhD. Is this intentional? I’m not entirely sure. There are
numerous typos throughout the book. The storyline bounces from paragraph to paragraph. One paragraph might be about planning a party and the very next about sugarcane harvesting with no clear section break. The author repeats herself endlessly, and the grammar is atrocious. For example: Maria Mercedes looked at me with her shaven head. And: Neighbors and relatives began to arrive. Julio and Don Cruz Munoz went to get the house building materials in town. Neighbors and relatives began to arrive early in the morning with building tools and gathered around the tobacco ranch.... Students who had worms were administered medicine for worms. Okay last one: The hens and chicks kept feeding where they were already eating. Ay, Dios Mio, I wanted to poke my eye out by the end of the book.
Conclusion: If the writing style was intentional, I didn’t like it. If it wasn’t, then shame on the editor. $19.95 is a lot of money for an ill-written book. I don’t feel I can recommend this to anyone unless the price drops significantly. If I wasn’t reviewing this book, it would have been a DNF for sure.
I rate this book 2 Stars
I rate this book 2 Stars
1 Star: Not good at all, do not read!
2 Stars: Read only as a last resort, no other books available
3 Stars: Good, enjoyed it, will recommend with reservations
Really good, read this book!
5 Stars: So good, I might read it again sometime! Highly recommend