Book Review

Book Review “Like Water for Chocolate”, is a creative story intermixed with romance, sex, war and homemade recipes. When Tita De la Garza’ s hopes of marrying her one true love, Pedro, are crushed by her obligation to take care of her mother, Mama Elena, for the rest of her life, her heartfelt emotions have been transmitted through the delicious meals she cooks for her family and friends. Everyone who eats her meals experiences the same love, anger or sorrow that Tita felt while cooking her meals. Tita’ s forbidden love with Pedro begins the many challenges the De la Garza family faces. Each separate character struggles to overcome the challenges and betrayals of marriage, the bindings of tradition, and the search for one’ s inner self.

Each month presents a new, unpredictable story accompanied by a De la Garza family recipe for dinner, love, and common ailments such as burns and bad breath. Through each separate story and character, Laura Esquivel, the author of the novel, effectively conveys the importance of following one’ s heart in order to achieve happiness. Tita follows her mother’ s wishes instead and remains despondent for the greater part of her life. Each character’ s personal struggle exemplifies the innermost defects and weaknesses felt in all of us. The conquering of these struggles to reach our desires often comes from breaking traditions, breaking bonds, and breaking hearts.

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Esquivel uses clever fictional elements to exaggerate the feelings of each character, such as when Gertrudis, Tita’ s sister, rides off naked with a revolutionary soldier and doesn’ t return for years. Her exaggerations allow the reader to experience the personal feelings of each character, observing their challenges and predicting their decisions. Esquivel’ s novel is simple and entertaining to read. Although it’ s a romance story filled with unrealistic events, predicting the outcome of Tita and Pedro’ s struggle for their love allows the reader to become involved in each character’ s life. The fictional elements, however, exaggerate the innermost feelings that each character experiences. The reader can actually feel the resentment and hatred that Tita has for Mama Elena and the torture Pedro endures while trying to stay close to Tita.

The fact that Tita’ s guests experience her feelings through their food, adds a creative element to the novel. Although it’ s highly improbable, Tita’ s feelings become magnified since they’ re felt by numerous people rather than a single person. At first the De la Garza’ s recipes and preparations seem out of place, but the further one reads into the book, it becomes apparent how important the recipes are and the creative touch they add. All feelings and events in the story are related to food. When Tita feels lonely, she relates her situation to the last pepper will remain untouched because no one wants to feel selfish, taking it for themselves. “Like Water for Chocolate”, stresses the importance of following your heart and discovering your inner self.

Esquivel wrote about the importance of choosing your own paths, even if they aren’ t necessarily the best ones. It’ s unavoidable to discover the right choices in life without making wrong ones first. The surprising final chapter of Esquivel’ s novel brings a sense of conclusion to the problems that the characters deal with throughout the entire book. The closing chapter explicates the realization that in order to achieve happiness, traditions and hearts sometimes have to be broken. As a bystander to the character’ s lives, it’ s obvious which choices they should make to find the utmost happiness and resolution.

But it was the anticipation of discovering which choices they would make for themselves that make the novel intriguing Book Reports.

Book Review

Description: Juvenile, non-fiction, informational, picture book, accompanied by text.

Jon O, as the boy with Downs Syndrome is called, is the main character of this childrens book. His parents, siblings, schoolmates, and friends were the other characters that made up the story. The story briefly sums up what Jon O is like and why he is a special boy.

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Jon O was categorized as retarded by the family doctor before he was even born, and the book portrayed him as a special child that had many differences from all the normal people around him. Elaine Ominsky made very clear all of the childs differences and made every accomplishment out to be nothing short of a miracle. The Wolfensbergers Devalued Social Roles I saw in the book were many.

Object of pity, His Mommy and Daddy cried! They were very sad that their baby was different. This one was spotted in the first paragraph of the book. There was one part that can be seen as object of pity, object of charity/burden, and a subhuman portrayal. This part was talking about Jon O in the classroom setting, Sometimes the children ask her, the teacher Why does he Jon O act so funny? Why is he different from us? The teacher tells them, Jon O has a special problem. He will not grow the way most children do. He will not be able to learn the way most children do. He is retarded. This shocked me, what a huge thing, to think, to say. Why would it be so hard to say Well kids, Jon O isnt different he just has differences. Isnt your hair, eyes, clothes, etc. different from other peoples? Differences are what make us unique and wonderful people. Why couldnt the teacher say something of that nature to not set him apart?
Another section that fell under that category was about his interactions with his brothers, which seem normal until Ominsky sets him apart. But sometimes his brothers get angry with Jon O. He cannot do all the things they can do. They forget Jon O is different. Good! Great!! Why is it that he isnt different, why cant he be a brother capable of being one of the boys and be difficult, left out, included, and all. Then it continues, Jon O never forgets he is different. Sometimes he is unhappy because he cannot all the things that people want him to do. And why cant he? Who told him he could not?
These negative roles were interspersed with some of the six values. There were positive contributions that Jon O was portrayed as making. He helps clean up after the art lessonhelps his brothers build a forthis mother set the tablehis fix the dune buggy. He also shows inherent strengths, Jon O will keep tryingHes lots of fun. There are also many relationships that are positive he plays with his schoolmates, friends, and brothers. Jon O also has a healthy relationship with his teacher and parents.

I think children would understand that this child was special, but also different and that does not need to be the case. He is constantly said to be different and Im not sure that that term is useful for a positive portrayal, because it was never said in the book that being different was good or even okay.The book reminded me of my cousin Christopher and made me glad that no one substituted his name for Jon Os. I liked the book for its attempt and the pictures, but the message was confusing at times for the intended age level. I would recommend it to other students in EDU 370.
The pictures went along well with the text and did not support or deny the text either. I have included copies of the book attached.
Ominsky, Elaine. Jon O.: A Special Boy. Prentice Hall Inc.: Englewood N.J. 1977.


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