Friendships can bring us peace, fill the emotional shortcomings in our romantic relationships, and help us remember what lies deep inside every one of us. For more than twenty-five years, the international organization Las Comadres Para Las Americas has been bringing together thousands of Latinas to count on, lean on, help, and advise one another. Comadre is a powerful term. It encompasses the most important relationships that exist between women: best friends, confidantes, coworkers, advisers, neighbors, godmothers to one’s children, and even midwives.
Edited by acclaimed author and editor Adriana V. López, this collection of stories features twelve prominent Latino authors who reveal how friendships have helped them to overcome difficult moments in their lives. Fabiola Santiago, Luis Alberto Urrea, Reyna Grande, and Teresa Rodríguez tell their stories of survival in the United States and in Latin America, where success would have been impossible without a friend’s support. Esmeralda Santiago, Lorraine López, Carolina De Robertis, Daisy Martínez, and Dr. Ana Nogales explore what it means to have a comadre help you through years of struggle and selfdiscovery. And authors Sofia Quintero, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, and Michelle Herrera Mulligan look at the powerful impact of the humor and humanity that their comadres brought to each one’s life, even in the darkest moments.
At the center of this collection of short essays is a term which has no exact translation to English: comadre, a word "unique to Latino culture" which "encompasses some of the most complex and important relationships that exist between women." Comadres are "best friends, confidants, co-workers, advisors, neighbors, and godmothers to one's children" and the anthology itself was commissioned by an organization called Las Comadres Para Las Americas, an international network that connects Latina women for mutual support. With such sterling goals, it is not surprising that the collection falters in terms of drama and tension. Some of the writing is lovely in particular a story from Esmeralda Santiago (When I Was Puerto Rican), "Las Comais," in which she describes the quartet of women who raised her in Puerto Rico. There are other bright spots, like an account from Michelle Herrera Mulligan (editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan Latina), "Anarchy Chicks," of her troubled, frequently dysfunctional relationship with her (non-Latina) childhood best friend, Tara. Peculiarly, the book sets itself up to potentially alienate a larger audience through the suggestion that Latinas have the market cornered on complex friendships, and uplifting tales of great female friends of any race or ethnicity hardly constitute compelling nonfiction.