FRESH OFF THE BOAT
The author of the deliciously scandalous novel The Au Pairs has a new book with nary a bitchy backstabber in sight. This book isn't out to shock the reader, nor could it be considered a guilty pleasure. The story is closer to home for the Manila-born author.
Vicenza and her family recently moved to the Bay Area from Manila, and she's having a hard time adjusting. Her once-wealthy family now shops at the Salvation Army and lives in a small apartment. Vicenza attends a fancy private school on scholarship, but she has a hard time making friends and is, of course, awkward around boys.
But in her e-mails home to her best friend, V tells a totally different story. Things start to unravel quicker than her rock-bottom-discount dress after she attends the fancy school dance—when V will have to face who she really is and what it means to be an immigrant.
De la Cruz is a witty, talented writer with a knack for conveying teenage mortification. The only thing this book lacks is a pressing sense of what the message and resolution will be. What keeps the pages turning? Her first book was so much fun we just wanted to see what would happen next. This book, although entertaining and emotional, lacks that punch. Still, the story of a new family in America is interesting. (Apr., 256 pp., $15.99)