Houston, We Have a Problema by Gwendolyn Zepeda

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Trade, 355 pages, 2007

Rating: 9/10

Reason for Reading: Chick-lit with a Latina twist? Sounds good to me!

Synopsis: Feeling her luck with men, her career, and her family failing her, Jessica Luna decides to put fate in charge, and frequently makes visits to her favourite fortune teller looking for advice on what to do next. Maybe her taste in men isn’t the greatest, but is she really meant to wind up with a boring man like her sister? Is she better off pursuing a career as a web designer, or should she trudge through her job in insurance hoping for a raise and a better living wage? Jessica is used to leaning on her fortune teller for the answers, but will she ever learn when it’s time to stop looking for ‘signs’ and dig deep to decide what she really wants?

Why you should read this book: Jessica is so likable and relatable that you’ll find yourself wishing you were friends so you could talk to her instead of letting her run off to a fortune teller whenever something goes wrong in her life. She’s got some of that Latina fire to her that makes reading about her life a blast, but she’s just as confused and full of doubts as the rest of us. The men in her life are fun to read about (and probably better for your stress levels to read about someone else involved with the bad boys), but different enough that things stay interesting. The bits with the fortune teller are funny, and despite her boring job, Jessica leads a fun life of dancing, family, and dating artists. There are challenges in her life, but it’s still nice to read some chick lit where the main character has such a zest for life.

Why you should avoid this book: You’re likely to either spend large portions of the book wanting to smack Jessica for her terrible test in men, or commiserating over it with her. There are twists along the way but for the most part it’s fairly clear what Jessica needs to do, even if the outcomes might be up in the air.

Opening paragraph:

Dreaming of snakes means someone will die.

Fabulous quotes:

Really, Jessica’s absolute favorite was Latin dancing – especially salsa and merengue. Or cumbias. Or even the polka-sounding rancheras, if she was at a wedding and there was nothing else to do. But she figured he wouldn’t know what that meant. ‘Have you ever danced to Spanish music?’ she asked instead.
‘Yes,’ he said. ‘I can do – okay, don’t laugh at my pronunciation – I can do cumbias and rancheras. And a little salsa.’
Jessica did laugh.
‘Aw…I knew I’d say it wrong.’ He laughed self-deprecatingly.
‘No, it’s not that. I only laughed because I was surprised. Because I was just thinking that you probably didn’t know what those were.’
‘See. There’s your lesson, then,’ he said teasingly. ‘Never assume.’

It was true that Guillermo had been a complete jerk – not just that night, but for weeks on end now. Not only did he say inconsiderate things, but he simply took her for granted in general. It was as if he thought she had nothing better to do than hang out with him, spur of the moment, to talk about art and have sex. And, sure, that had been enough for her at first, but he acted as though that were supposed to satisfy her forever, no matter how long their relationship went on.
She was tired of it. He should have stepped up his game a long time ago. She should have made him.

Also recommended: The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik; Names My Sisters Call Me by Megan Crane; Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles.

Also by this author: To the Last Man I Slept with and All the Jerks Just Like Him; Growing Up with Tamales.

Author’s website: gwenworld.com

Fun tidbit: Zepeda was one of the first bloggers to write and sell a book.

Would I read more by this author? I probably won’t go back to her collection of short stories (To the Last Man I Slept with and All the Jerks Just Like Him), but I will look forward to future novels.

&#169 Lisa Yanaky 2003-2009

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