“If you’re Mejicana or Mejicano and don’t know who Pedro Infante is, you should be tied to a hot stove with yucca rope and beaten with sharp dry corn husks as you stand in a vat of soggy fideos”
- Denise Chavez (Loving Pedro Infante)
Okay, I just had to start my review off with that passage because when I read it, I laughed aloud. It is just such a typical Xicano, Mejicano curse that I’m sure we’ve all heard something like it from our abuelitos or our parents.
Loving Pedro Infante is the story of Teresina Avila and her friend Irma “La Wirms” Granados, who live in Cabritoville and belong to the Pedro Infante Club #256 along with other women in the small town. These women are Pedro crazy and I can understand that, being a big Pedro Infante fan myself.
The story is also about love and obsession. Tere is in love with an hijo de la… named Lucio who is of course, married and a slimy worm. That doesn’t stop Tere from loving him though and from being obsessed. She sneaks off to meet him in a motel, battles with her best friend over him, hides and sneaks. She is ashamed of the relationship but that doesn’t stop her from seeking him out. Why do some guys do this to us? I think all of us women have had our Lucio. Handsome devils, good at making us feel that we are unworthy when all the time, the problem is our own insecurities, bullshit and emotional issues.
The book is great. I loved the characters, was at times frustrated with Tere, liked her, thought she was an idiot, wanted her to kick Lucio’s tight Mexican butt all the way out of Cabritoville and cheered her on. The fan club were so much like all my abuela’s old friends that swooned over Pedro Infante and loved their daughters and families fiercely. Denise Chavez tells a hell of a story.
Denise Chavez’ Loving Pedro Infante is a book that I started off loving and couldn’t put it down, then became a book that I tossed behind my bed in a corner to collect dust and accuse me, until I picked it up again.
Why did I toss it? Because the character that Teresina Avila is in love with – Lucio was so much like my own hijo de la… ex-boyfriend that it made me uncomfortable. We were in yet another or our cycles where we were together again after having been broken up and the book made me see things in him that I didn’t want to see or wasn’t ready to. No, mine wasn’t married but he was still an hijo de la… all the same. He pulled his disappearing acts like Lucio and he was just generally unavailable and I was just as obsessed as Tere, which is probably why I was so darn mad at her for half of the book.
It’s not often that an writer can look into the reader’s heart and soul and pluck the strings so well that the reader believes the book is about their own life. Denise Chavez does this easily and while I was uncomfortable at times, it was a damn good book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved reading about Pedro Infante too. She gives lots of great tidbits of his life and films, which were a nice bonus for this Infante fan.
Viva Pedro Infante and Viva Denise Chavez! Oh, and to my Lucio (you know who you are), go stand in the soggy fideos!