Read Caramelo Online

Authors: Sandra Cisneros


Acclaim for Sandra Cisneros’s
“A wonderful book … evoking life’s absurdity and possibility, tragedy and transcendence.… Combines the thematic richness of the most ambitious literature with the delight in character and plot of the most engrossing page-turner.”

Chicago Sun-Times
“Cisneros is a writer for all people. This is a novel of families, home life and finding yourself in the world’s greater landscape.”

USA Today
“A sprawling, exuberant hopscotch through a century of family history.… Cisneros seduces us with her knitted tales, great and small, and her message is all the more powerful for its shimmering clarity.”
—Time Out New York
“Cisneros has a great eye for detail, a good ear for dialogue and a marvelous sense of humor.…
is a tour de force—rich in its use of language, breathtaking in scope.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Lovingly, passionately woven from dust and glory.… A sweeping family history that somehow manages to interlace not just the Reyeses—those conjurers, enticers and troublemakers—but also all the rest of us, the good and bad together, the bitter and, of course, the sweet.”
—The Miami Herald
“Sprawling, spirited.… Vibrant and big-hearted.”

“Cisneros’s exuberant prose tickles the senses.… A warm and generous story to wrap yourself up in.”

St. Petersburg Times
“A sweet gift from the universe, a reminder of the ancient, deep, noble, and sad sources of the human heart … sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes transcendent.”
—San Antonio Express
“Cisneros is a virtuoso.… [
] is rich in character and action, people and passions.”

Houston Chronicle
is a book to read slowly and savor and if you can find a listener, to read out loud.”

Santa Fe New Mexican
“Cisneros is such an imaginative storyteller.…
engages in a kind of playfulness that is utterly bewitching.”

Entertainment Weekly
“Spellbinding.… A richly satisfying novel.”


is superb. There should be a brand-new language to describe the ways in which [Cisneros] has imbued the ancient art of story-telling with her trademark organization, characterization, evocation of time and place, portrayal of a particular culture, and visionary wisdom.… You must read this book for yourself, two or three times.”
—The Women’s Review of Books
“Cisneros is a wonderful cultural translator, writing English dialogue so saturated with Mexican-Spanish idioms and constructions that you feel like you’ve been magically empowered to eavesdrop in another language.”

The Oregonian


Copyright © 2002 by Sandra Cisneros

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, in 2002.

Vintage is a registered trademark and Vintage Contemporaries and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

Some of the chapters have been previously published in the following: “The Detour That Turns Out to Be One’s Destiny” in
El Andar
. “Dirt” in
Grand Street
. “Esa Tal Por Cual” in
Poet’s & Writers
. “A Man, Ugly, Strong & Proper” in
. “Mexico Next Right” in
. “Que Elegante” in
. “Spic Spanish” in
Si Magazine
. Excerpts from the chapters “When an Elephant Sits on Your Roof,” “A Godless Woman, My Mother,” and “Everything a Niña Could Want” in
San Antonio Express News

Permissions acknowledgments can be found at the end of the book.

The Library of Congress has cataloged the Knopf edition as follows:
Cisneros, Sandra.
Caramelo / Sandra Cisneros. —1
p. cm.
1. Mexican American families—Fiction. 2. Grandparent and child—Fiction. 3. Women—Mexico—Fiction. 4. Chicago (Ill.)—Fiction. 5. Grandmothers—Fiction. 6. Mexico—Fiction. 7. Girls—Fiction.
I. Title
PS3553.I78 C37 2002
813′.54—dc21       2002025488

eISBN: 978-0-8041-5086-6


Para ti, Papá


Title Page

Recuerdo de Acapulco

1 Verde, Blanco, y Colorado
2 Chillante
3 Qué Elegante
4 Mexico Next Right
5 Mexico, Our Nearest Neighbor to the South
6 Querétaro
7 La Capirucha
8 Tarzan
9 Aunty Light-Skin
10 The Girl Candelaria
11 A Silk Shawl, a Key, a Spiraling Coin
12 The Little Mornings
13 Niños y Borrachos
14 Fotonovelas
15 Cinderella
16 El Destino Es el Destino
17 Green Rice
18 La Casita de Catita
19 Un Recuerdo
20 Echando Palabras

When I Was Dirt

21 So Here My History Begins for Your Good Understanding and My Poor Telling
22 Sin Madre, Sin Padre, Sin Perro Que Me Ladre
23 A Man Ugly, Strong, and Proper
Narciso Reyes,
You Are My Destiny
24 Leandro Valle Street, Corner of Misericordia,
Over by Santo Domingo
25 God Squeezes
26 Some Order, Some Progress, But Not Enough of Either
27 How Narciso Loses Three of His Ribs
During the Ten Tragic Days
28 Nothing But Story
29 Trochemoche
30 A Poco—You’re Kidding
31 The Feet of Narciso Reyes
32 The World Does Not Understand Eleuterio Reyes
33 Cuídate
34 How Narciso Falls into Disrepute Due to Sins of the Dangler
35 The Detour That Turns Out to Be One’s Destiny
36 We Are Not Dogs
37 Esa Tal por Cual
38 ¡Pobre de Mí!
39 Tanta Miseria
40 I Ask la Virgen to Guide Me Because
I Don’t Know What to Do
41 The Shameless Shamaness, the Wise Witch Woman
María Sabina
42 Born Under a Star
43 El Sufrido
44 Chuchuluco de Mis Amores
45 ’Orita Vuelvo
46 Spic Spanish?
47 He Who Is Destined to Be a Tamale
48 Cada Quien en Su Oficio Es Rey
49 Piensa en Mí
50 Neither with You Nor Without You
51 All Parts from Mexico, Assembled in the U.S.A.
I Am Born

The Eagle and the Serpent,
My Mother and My Father

52 Cielito Lindo
53 El Otro Lado
54 Exquisite Tamales
55 The Man Whose Name No One Is Allowed to Mention
56 The Man from Mars
57 Birds Without a Nest
58 My Kind of Town
59 Dirt
60 When an Elephant Sits on Your Roof
61 Very Nice and Kind, Just Like You
62 A Godless Woman, My Mother
63 God Gives Almonds
64 Sister Oh
65 Body Like a Raisinette
66 Nobody but Us Chickens
67 The Vogue
68 My Cross
69 Zorro Strikes Again
70 Becoming Invisible
71 The Great Divide
This Side and That
72 Mexican on Both Sides
Metiche, Mirona, Mitotera, Hocicona—en Otras Palabras, Cuentista—Busybody, Ogler, Liar/Gossip/Troublemaker, Big-Mouth—in Other Words, Storyteller
73 Saint Anthony
74 Everything a Niña Could Want
75 The Rapture
76 Parece Mentira
77 On the Verge of Laughable
78 Someday My Prince Popocatépetl Will Come
79 Halfway Between Here and There,
in the Middle of Nowhere
80 Zócalo
81 My Disgrace
82 The King of Plastic Covers
83 A Scene in a Hospital That Resembles a Telenovela
When in Actuality It’s the Telenovelas That Resemble This Scene
84 No Worth the Money, but They Help a Lot
85 Mi Aniversario
86 The Children and Grandchildren of Zoila and Inocencio Reyes
Cordially Invite You to Celebrate Thirty Years of Marriage
About the Author
Other Books by This Author
Cuéntame algo, aunque sea una mentira
Tell me a story, even if it’s a lie.


he truth, these stories are nothing but story, bits of string, odds and ends found here and there, embroidered together to make something new. I have invented what I do not know and exaggerated what I do to continue the family tradition of telling healthy lies. If, in the course of my inventing, I have inadvertently stumbled on the truth,

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