Friday, October 1, 2010


My Banned Books Week commentary continues with Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly
Installments, with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies by Laura Esquivel.  I read this novel for a Continental literature class I took a few years ago.  I remember I was thrilled when I saw the reading list because I already had the book in my home library and had been wanting to read it.

Like Water for Chocolate--challenged 2004/2005:

Challenged at the Arrowhead High School in Merton, Wis. (2004) as an elective reading list assignment by a parent because the book contains “sexually explicit and inappropriate material.” Source: Jan. 2005, p.II. (from ALA)

I will grant you the fact that there is some sexually explicit material in the book, but I'm not very fond of sex in books and this was not anywhere near as bad as some of the books I've read.  I think most high school students are mature enough to read this book.  It would be a shame to deprive them of reading a book that colleges are assigning in their upper level classes AND this book is so culturally rich.  It is a great learning experience in Mexican culture and history.  I guess you can tell that I loved this book!

About the book (from Goodreads):
Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit. The classic love story takes place on the De la Garza ranch, as the tyrannical owner, Mama Elena, chops onions at the kitchen table in her final days of pregnancy. While still in her mother's womb, her daughter to be weeps so violently she causes an early labor, and little Tita slips out amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon becomes a way of life, and Tita grows up to be a master chef. She shares special points of her favorite preparations with listeners throughout the story.

About the author (from Goodreads):
A teacher by trade, Laura Esquivel gained international attention with Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances and Home Remedies and The Law of Love. In both books she manages to incorporate her teaching abilities by giving her readers lessons about life. During an on-line Salon interview with Joan Smith, she said, "As a teacher I realize that what one learns in school doesn't serve for very much at all, that the only thing one can really learn is self understanding and this is something that can't be taught." With the intensity of a committed teacher incorporating glitzy stunts into the curriculum to get the attention of her students, Esquivel took a bold step when she incorporated multimedia in The Law of Love by combining her science fiction, new age, and spiritual story with a CD of arias by Puccini and Mexican danzones, and forty-eight pages of illustrations by a Spanish artist.

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