Well hello, Lovelies!!! I hope your New Year is going swimmingly. Mine is and I am so super excited about what this year has to bring us here at Dee & Dee! See that logo at the side there? dee's fantabulous hubby, Shane, created that for us, and I adore it!! And that's just one of the new additions here at our new site, we have searchable labels, and an extensive list of author links. And with this review, I get to introduce you to our new monthly spotlight - FAB (Fabulous Author/Book). Each month, dee and I will each pick a wonderful new author (or find) and spotlight that particular author for an entire week. We will have reviews of their book(s), interviews, sneak peaks (if we can get 'em) and contests. This is so exciting for me for several reasons. I mean, we get to chat with some really awesome people, we get to read some absolutely FABulous books, and we get the chance to introduce you, our wonderful readers, to them as well. Plus, we get to give away stuff, how cool is that? So, without further ado, I give you my first ever FAB pick!
Adios to My Old Life by Caridad Ferrer
Does a seventeen-year old from Miami have what it takes to be the next big Latin superstar? And does she really want it?
As a talented singer-guitarist with a dream of going pro, Alegria Montero is getting fed up with the endless, boring parade of quinceaneras and other family party gigs. She's longing for something bigger. And Oye Mi Canto - a new reality TV show that's searching for the next Latin superstar - is definitely that. Ali figures she'll never make the cut, but auditioning seems like a good way to get her overprotective father to take her ambitions seriously.
To Ali's complete shock, she passes her audition. Next thing she know, she's dealing with wardrobe fittings, cameras, reporters, vocal coaches, and websites designed by lovestruck fanboys. She's also dealing with jealousy, malice, and sabotage among the contestants, all of which has her wondering: Is it really time to shoot for the stars and try to win the whole competition, or is it time to say "Cut!" and become a normal teenager again?
This is a YA book, so really, what much can I say about the BCC? It's accurate to a point, gives a nice description of the book's basic premise, and even if I didn't go in search of this book, I would have picked it up and bought it based on what was written. So I'd say not bad, not bad at all. Mark my words, one day there will be a YA BCC that misses the mark, and I'll be ready. Oh, yes, I will be ready!
I'm going to do something a bit different with this review. Today's post will revolve around Ali, her music and the show. With my next review, I will dissect Ali's personal life, her relationship with her father, her friends (new and old), and her first love. There are so very many facets to Adios that I could write a small novel just discussing the book. If you've already read the book, or just want spoilers and more discussion on the book, you can hop over to this thread on The Cherry Forums where Adios is the months Book Club Pick. There is also a section devoted just to questions for Ferrer and she will be answering them throughout the week.
Told in First Person Narrative, Adios to My Old Life is the story of Alegria (Ali) Montero as she chases her dream of performing on stage. Ali wants more than anything to be a performer and she sees Oye Mi Canto as her shot. But Ali knows her father would never allow her to audition for Oye Mi Canto. He may be an amazing musician in his own right, but he values teaching above performing, and as a single dad he is very protective of his daughter. So going behind his back, Ali auditions.
When she finds she has made the cut she must convince her dad that she needs to do this. And although we get to see Ali as a musician before this particular part of the book, the way in which Ferrer articulates Ali's desire to perform is so powerful, so real that even if you aren't a musician, you feel it in the pit of your stomach. " Papi...The music...it does feed my heart and soul, in ways that no one but another musician can begin to understand or imagine, but..." I stopped, gathering my thoughts...I walked over to where my Bernabe was propped in its stand..."When I perform, I feel..." I ran my hand along the long neck of the guitar, feeling the satin texture of the wood on the back, the subtle ridges of the frets on the front intersecting with smooth, nylon strings. "...It's just this sense that when I'm up there...I feel alone, I am alone, but it doesn't matter because I'm more myself than at any other time. It's like...I feel complete." Now, I've read this book twice, and I still feel stunned whenever I read this particular passage. As you can tell, I've pieced (as I oft do) together a few paragraphs there, but it doesn't make the imagery or the emotion any less powerful.
So with her dad's permission, Ali sets off on her new adventure. Of course, this is a Latin show, and since Ali is only 17, she will not get to live in the big house with the other contestants, and she'll have to have a chaperon. Thankfully, Elaine, Papi's best friend of over 10 years, agrees to the job.
So with the green light to participate in the show, Ali and Elaine set off everyday to the house where the other contestants are staying. At first, Ali isn't so sure the show is all about the music like she had envisioned. There is make-up and wardrobe, publicity shots and interviews, rehearsals that can go on forever, and some fairly fierce animosity radiating from other contestants. All I wanted was to perform, And not just this trained monkey crap that took up so much time I wasn't even able to sneak off into a corner to practice so much as "Mary Had A Little Lamb."
But, soon the show kicks off and Ali makes it through round after round and she gets to play and sing so much she finds herself needing to rest her voice. But with her continued success on the show, that animosity from other contestants grow, and one in particular can't stand her, and Ali just cannot understand the hate radiating from the other young woman. Fabiana is also from Ali's hometown, and has a much different style. She hates Ali and makes no bones about telling her every chance she can get. "I don't have a problem, but you will if you don't understand how things are. I'm the hometown favorite, not some nenesita who's barely out of diapers. You're nothing more than a novelty, so I'm telling you right now - stay out of my way and all will be fine." Ali does her best to avoid the other woman, but when things start happening to sabotage her performances, Ali knows who's behind it, and makes sure to keep her guard up and stay alert.
But try as they may, no one will sabotage Ali's music. The music feeds her soul, remember, and each performance proves it. With the competition down to three, a rather brutal attempt to destroy Ali's performance almost succeeds. But, Ali isn't a quitter, she started this show and she is going to see it through to the end. With her emotions ripped to shreds over the attack, Ali walks on stage and delivers a moving rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine," and it is during this performance that Ali has an eye-opening epiphany, I was a dreamer. No matter what, music would always be my world, my dream, and I hoped that anyone listening could here that. I performed for them. I performed for me.
Ali's musical diversity almost surpasses my own, and I think that's one of the reasons I so loved this book. I love music, I get passionate about music so "hearing" Ali talk about her love of- and devotion to- music I was transported. That's what a great book will do for me. Put me in the shoes of the main character, even if I'm a far cry from the seventeen year old Ali's age, I was Ali while I read Adios. I felt her passion, I understood her pain, and shared her dreams.
Ferrer took the music, which could have been just another plot point, and made it a character. It breathed life into Ali and into the story. While reading Adios you feel the music and the power it has to cheer and console. I could feel the music and I liked it. I loved getting lost in the rhythms, the heady power that music has in my life and the power it has to give memories a special touch, to give solace and to empower.
I loved how - that even though music is the center of the story and it is weaved into Ali's life like the blood pumping through a bodies veins - it blends into the story, meshes with Ali's life as an undercurrent that her life revolves around, instead of being the only aspect of Ali's life it is an extension. That's what good music does, imprints itself into our lives and gives the living that's taking place a soundtrack. It doesn't overpower us, it simply helps us. A good book does the same, and Oye, but Adios has weaved itself into my subconscious and has become a part of me.
In my next post, I will discuss the relationships that Ali forges and her introduction to the life of a celebrity. I told you, this book has it all, and I wasn't even close to kidding.
Have you had a chance to read Adios yet? Want to? Or, have you read Adios but want a signed copy? Well, then do I have a treat for you! Caridad had graciously agreed to send THREE lucky readers a signed copy of Adios! To enter, simply tell us your favorite song and why and you are in! You can leave it as a comment or, as always, e-mail your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org , at the end of my first ever FAB week, I'll draw three names for winners. That easy!
And please, don't forget to go over to The Cherry Forums for more discussion on Adios with Caridad!
P.S. To support young musicians, please click here.