Title: Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion
Author: Marisol Murano
Genre: Memoir, Chick-Lit
Rating: 3 Stars
Description/Synopsis: Since her arrival in the United States from Venezuela, Valentina Goldman isn’t exactly living the American Dream. She’s living the American Nightmare. Her late husband, Max, has left her a young widow, a step-daughter whom Valentina didn’t want, and a bi-polar ex-wife. And oh, having given up her dream job in New York, Valentina is also unemployed in Arizona. Part “Bridget Jones Diary,” part “Modern Family,” “Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion” is the story of a woman trying to get a handle on her whacky life in America. In breathless, blog-like snippets, Valentina compares her own story with that of her eccentric sister, Azucena, who has bizarre troubles of her own down in the tropics. “Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion” is a funny and moving story about what happens when a passionate South American woman moves to the USA and, like so many of us, ends up with a life she never imagined.
WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW
I received this book directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Cover: Well done. It’s contemporary, clear, and the text doesn’t obscure the model much. Thumbs up.
This book was one of those books that when I picked it up, utterly threw me for a loop. I was expecting a narrative tale of Valentina Goldman’s life—and that’s what I got, just not in the way I expected. This story is written completely in the telling voice as if the main character, Valentina, is telling a story to a young girl named Emily. To be honest, it took me a long time (four or five chapters) to really reconcile with the strange way it was written, and it did almost have me putting the story down. For a very long while I wasn’t sure if the voice was going to change to a more narrative approach later on, who Valentina was talking to, or who that person was in relation to herself. I’m still not sure how old Emily is. This lead to a very confusing read at times.k
Another thing that threw me off was the constant jumping around. One chapter Valentina would be telling Emily about her sister’s marriage, and then the next she’d be talking about her own step kids. A chapter later, she’d be back to her sister… or her aunt, or her childhood. I felt like I was getting jerked around quite a bit, and it made the story a bit hard to follow at times. I had to spend way too much time piecing the story together for myself than I would have liked.
That aside, I’m not entirely certain what the point of the story was. There didn’t seem to be a theme, moral, or even explanation of why Valentina was telling this story to Emily. There was no discernable plot.
This book did do some things right however; The main character, Valentina, had a very strong Latina voice that was both authentic and entertaining. I live on the border of Texas/Mexico, and I’d dare to say that a lot of the Mexican women I know have the same brash, outgoing personality and sensibility that I found in Valentina. (I mean that in the most positive of ways) Sometimes I found her voice rude and crass, but by the same token, Valentina sometimes found our American ways baffling and absurd, it’s just a difference of culture, and it was interesting to get that kind of perspective on America and to compare the differences.
Did I enjoy the book? Meh… it was all right. I sometimes found the stories Valentina told entertaining, but there were a lot of them that never seemed complete. I do think Valentina as a character was well written and well voiced, but in the end I’m not sure it was the type of book I normally would have picked up off the shelves. The way in which it was written (jumping all over the place, and being told with very little active narrative) made it hard for me to enjoy and follow a long. Still, it wasn’t a bad book, just very confusing. Overall, I consider it a mixed bag, some of it was done really well, and some of it wasn’t. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys quirky, humorous memoirs, or who may enjoy different cultural perspectives given in a South American, female voice. It was certainly an interesting read.