In a continued decade-long effort to create an accessible community-wide book discussion group, the annual program Centre County Reads has named Sandra Cisneros’ novel “Caramelo” as the discussion book for 2013.
Kristina Yezdimer, adult services librarian at Schlow Centre Region Library and chairwoman of the Centre County Reads committee, said that the program looks for a book that will inspire participants to learn new things and explore new ideas as a community.
“We want a book that brings up issues with rich discussion topics that will be good for people of different ages to talk about with each other,” Yezdimer said.
“Caramelo” is a semi-autobiographical novel that tells the story of a young Mexican girl’s experiences with family and the search for her identity as she grows up in both Mexico City and Chicago.
“It’s a wonderful novel that includes so much sensory information that you really feel like you’re right there in the story,” Yezdimer said.
“ ‘Caramelo’ is a coming-of-age account that is very much a universal story of contemporary America,” said Sean Goudie, director of the Center for American Literary Studies, which is sponsoring both the annual Centre County Reads writing contest and an author talk with Cisneros on April 15 at The State Theatre.
Other events include a Mexican Fiesta kickoff event on March 16 at Schlow Library, sponsored by Global Connections.
Noelia Torres, a Global Connections volunteer who has recently moved to State College from Mexico, said she is excited to represent Mexican pride and culture during the kickoff event.
“While the State College community has a very diverse population, it’s always important to have opportunities to see different things from other countries,” Torres said.
According to Goudie, the variety of programs and events offered through Centre County Reads provide a chance to discover the contributions of the Chicana community to Penn State and the surrounding area.
“Cisneros is one of the most well-known and influential American writers writing today,” Goudie said. “Through reading her novels and participating in these events, you come to understand this ethnic community in a way that only an author of great gifts can do.”