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Hungry Woman in Paris    by Josefina López order for
Hungry Woman in Paris
by Josefina López
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2009 (2009)

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Canela is a Mexican-American living in Los Angeles and working as a journalist. When her proposed marriage to a surgeon hits the skids, she decides to use the honeymoon tickets and fly to Paris. Her mother's rants about passing up a secure life don't sit well with Canela. She feels she needs more space from her mother's sharp tongue.

She signs up with a culinary school in Paris, mainly because this will allow her to remain in France beyond the usual three months allowed a visitor. Cooking is not her forte and she struggles with the lessons as well as struggling to learn French, as the last course will be conducted exclusively in French.

Her battles with her lessons sound similar to those of my daughter, who attended the Culinary Institute of America. The difference is that my daughter wanted to make her living in the field whereas it is simply a means to an end for Canela. Canela is upset that she finds the same bias against Latinas in France that she found in the good ole USA. Brought to the United States at five years old, she still has deep internal connections to the country of her birth. Finding this bias in France is the ultimate insult.

Hungry Woman in Paris does not only allude to food but also to Canela's visceral need for a man. Not every man, but almost. With some, she draws the line. The reader is treated to several of her encounters. Canela is a woman who listens to her heart as well as her head. I imagine author Josefina López also is that woman. Adamant about women's rights and about how long it is taking to acquire them. Hungry Woman in Paris is a thought provoking book of a thirty year-old woman coming of age.

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