Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Houston, we have a problema by Gwendolyn Zepeda


Title: Houston, we have a problema
Author: Gwendolyn Zepeda
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: January 8, 2009
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Age Group: Adult

Houston, we have a problema is the story of Jessica Luna, a young woman without the self-confidence to make her own decisions. She is tired of her mother and sister interfering in her life, yet she is unable to determine her own direction. Jessi struggles with her cultural identity and finding her place in social and professional situations.

Zepeda writes the flawed character of Jessi very well. So well in fact that Jessi drove me absolutely crazy as I waited for her to get a clue and grow up. She is self-centered yet completely insecure. She is so focused on her drama that she is unable to see the difficult situations that other members of her family are facing. She also has tunnel vision in regards to career opportunities and dating prospects, causing her to very nearly miss out on some fantastic possibilities.

I would have liked to see Jessi grow a bit more a little earlier in the book. The constant drama got old quickly especially since Jessi debated the exact same choices multiple times in the book. While the drama was important for showing the reader where Jessi is at the start of the book, I think more could have been done with the ending when she is finally determined to take control of her life. The results of her choices and new found drive would have been more interesting to me.

The other characters in the book have their own drama as well and it spills over into their relationships with Jessi even when she doesn't realize it. I thought these scenarios were very well written as I could see them playing out in many family and friend relationships. The characters and their choices are really the focus of this book. The actual situations they find themselves in are less important than their responses to the situations.

Overall, I found this book to be just an okay, quick read. The version I received does have a Reading Group Guide and a Questions for the Author section which could lead to deeper discussion of the book. There are some themes revolving around personal identity that are certainly worth contemplating. I, however, found it difficult to get beyond my annoyance with the attitude of the main character.

Thank you to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for providing me a copy of Houston, we have a problema.