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Winner of the Miguel Mármol Prize, this collection of inter-related stories delves into the life of Andi Rowe—a young woman of Mexican and Irish heritage—to give an intimate account of one family’s passage from the immigrant story to the American story, and the cycle of loss, adaptation, and rediscovery that is innate to that experience.
Set largely in Los Angeles’s San Gabriel Valley, and crossing generations and borders, these stories focus on the quiet moments between explosions, where tension simmers just beneath the surface. From a Border Patrol agent whose own mother crossed the border illegally to a lonely woman seeking companionship with her hired day-laborer, characters seek revelation in the most ordinary of experiences, their actions filled with humor, longing, and honesty.
In the tradition of Flannery O’Connor, Toni Margarita Plummer explores themes of grace and redemption as each story spirals toward a surprising but inevitable conclusion. The Bolero of Andi Rowe, an impressive work by an exciting new talent, offers a compassionate look at the struggle between meeting cultural expectations and seeking happiness, and the sacrifices and triumphs made along the way.
About the Author
Toni Margarita Plummer is a winner of the Miguel Mármol Prize for a first work of fiction by a Latino author. She attended the University of Notre Dame and the Master of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California. She is a fellow of the Macondo Foundation. An editor at a New York publishing house, Toni lives in Brooklyn.
"Heartfelt stories of girls who ache to live in any other world than the one given them and who disastrously believe falling in love is the only way to get there. American tales for the new millennium." —Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street and Caramelo
"The quiet intensity of Toni Margarita Plummer's prose masks the unexpected destinations of these narratives. Each story is an astonishing and insightful journey that takes the reader into the various and sometimes conflicting spheres these sentient characters inhabit with remarkable grace and aplomb. The Rowe family and others in this collection must navigate the tricky terrain of being neither this nor that, an unmapped region of cultural otherness that complicates, challenges, and ultimately enriches our understanding not just of the Latino experience but of what it means to be a human being." —Lorraine López, PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and author of The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters
"A beautiful collection that captures lives poised on various poignant edges, the edge of adulthood with a piñata hidden under the bed, the edge of the law in a sketch of borderland desert, the edge of a lovelorn heart as song lyrics get scribbled in the darkness. In these ten stories, each rendered with tender and evocative detail, Plummer's characters find themselves between the comforts of home and the mysteries of the larger world, and it is a credit to her skill as a storyteller that we root for these people as they head forward, onward, into the unknown." —Michael Jaime-Becerra, author of This Time Tomorrow