The Amado Women by Désirée Zamorano focuses on Mercedes Amado and her three daughters struggling with the complicated nature of the American Dream. Though all of the Amado women have achieved some version of this dream, Zamorano brings the reality of their lives into focus—a reality that is much less idyllic, but far more interesting.
The greatest strength of The Amado Women is in the complex portrayal of Latinas: Celeste, the pragmatic and money savvy daughter with a tumultuous inner life; Sylvia, the devoted mother of two and mediator between her sisters, who struggles for independence; Nataly, the free-spirited artist who is still very much coming of age; and Mercedes, the matriarch trying to hold her family together. Zamorano’s characters are a far cry from common tropes.
Zamorano’s background as a mystery writer also serves the story. The novel’s domestic struggles hold the reader in a constant state of suspense, and the character’s actions seem at once unpredictable and inevitable.
At times, the dialogue falls flat. The Amado sisters occasionally sound less human than one would expect, and come across like stiff archetypes. However, as the novel progresses, the world of the Amado women becomes more complex. The sisters develop past their archetypes, and Los Angeles, the novel’s setting, becomes a character in and of itself.
Zamorano set out to write Latinas who broke out of stereotypical media caricatures, and in this, she succeeded. The Amado Women, at its core, is a novel about a complicated family. It’s an old story that Zamorano has given new life—not because of the ordinary problems the characters face, but because the characters navigating their ordinary world are unique.
The Amado Women
Cinco Puntos Press