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Continuing with the Genre Challenge:

Read a New Adult/YA Romance

For this part of the challenge, I read Caridad Ferrer’s Adios To My Old Life, published in 2006 by “MTV Books” of all things.

As you might be able to tell by the date of publication, I bought this book many years ago – a copy for my niece and one for myself. And now I’ve finally gotten around to reading it.

Adios to My Old Life is a book of its time, but it still manages to hold up pretty well. The story focuses on a 17 year old Cuban American girl who lives near Miami, Florida and is a talented musician and singer. Alegria Montero or Ali, for short, was raised by her widowed father. He’s a music professor who is also passionate about music and hopes that Ali will end up becoming a music academic too. Instead, Ali secretly auditions for a talent competition show in the same vein as American Idol. (That’s what I mean by being a book of its time since Idol was extremely popular in 2006.) This show, called Oye Mi Canto, is to find the next big Latin Superstar, including competitors from North, Central, and South America, which will be broadcast from Miami on, mostly, Spanish language channels. Ali does very well at the audition, singing and playing her beloved guitar and ends up being chosen one of the competitors – in fact, the youngest competitor. Therefore, she needs to get her father’s permission and have a chaperone. Also, while at the audition, Ali meets two people who will affect her for good and bad during the run of the show. One is a young man who is interning as an assistant to the director between semesters at the university he attends in New York. The second is a fellow competitor who immediately sees Ali as a threat to her own success and does everything she can to discourage her. The book mostly focuses on Ali’s experiences — both positive and negative — on the show, her growing confidence in and love of performing, her shaky relationship with her disapproving father, her dismay at instant TV fame, and her developing feelings for the intern, Jamie.

Although the book does have romance in it, it’s definitely not the focus. Ali’s maturation as a young woman and performer take center stage. Her central rival on the show – Fabiana – was more than a bit over the top, but everyone else is written with more subtlety. I did love that Ali’s culture and the show’s Latin point of view was captured so well, probably due to the fact that Caridad Ferrer, herself, is a Cuban American. Spanish is interspersed a bit in the dialogue, but you can get the gist of what is being said. The one thing that bothered me about the plot itself is that the show’s manipulation of the competitors, while not unbelievable, would have probably not been legal. As I understand it, talent competition shows that offer tangible awards have to follow fair rules of competition just as a game show would. In the book, however, production gets a little bit more involved in who moves on than would be allowed if this were a show in the real world. But, all’s well that ends well. I’d give this story a “B.”


The Cocktail Challenge – 10 down – complete

Alphabet Challenge – 10 down (A, B, C, G, H, J, K, M, P, & Q) – complete
Genre Challenge – 5 down, 5 to go