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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Review: Flirting In Spanish by Susan McKinney de Ortega

Title: Flirting In Spanish: What Mexico taught me about love, living and forgiveness 
Author:  Susan McKinney de Ortega
Publisher: Antaeus Books, Inc.
Publish Date: July 1, 2011
Source: I received a copy from the author. This did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a memoir lover.
  • You're a armchair traveler.
What's the Story?:

From Publishers Weekly: "Running from paralyzing memories of an attempted rape and the decade of silence and shame that followed, Ortega lands in Mexico at 33, trying not to fall for a much younger local. In 1992 the author, the daughter of champion NBA coach Jack McKinney, was teaching English to Mexican teenagers when she met 19-year-old Carlos, who ardently pursues her despite the age and huge cultural differences. She resists at first, due to their divergent backgrounds--Ortega's childhood was one of summer vacation rentals and white gloves at Mass, while Carlos was a high school dropout who didn't have running water until age 10. But when she realizes that she is surprised a man could be kind to her like her father, "I didn't feel like a nervous wreck of a person anymore." It's not an instant happy ending as Ortega contends with the extreme poverty Carlos and his family live in, the machismo culture, and her own lingering doubts, with one foot in Mexico and the other wavering. When she finally achieves hard-won contentment, it's a joyous moment."

My Two Cents:

I've had the opportunity to travel to Mexico quite bit so I was excited to read this book from the travel aspect. I most definitely was not disappointed in that aspect. Ortega writes about the small, poor Mexican town that she lived in so vividly that I could imagine it all.

The story is in a way about Ortega running away from something difficult in her life but it's more about the strange paths that life takes us, something I think most of us can identify with. Ortega never expects Mexico to become a long term home. She doesn't expect to fall in love with one of the students that she was teaching. She certainly doesn't expect to eventually live with her young boyfriend in a small house with his whole family. Life takes us a lot of places but sometimes we still have to be willing to make peace with the past in order to continue moving forward, which is exactly what Ortega finds.

This is a great memoir that armchair travelers and those that enjoy journey type stories will eat up!


  1. For some reason, I can only read a few memoirs a year or I get burned out. But this one sounds fantastic - especially since the book is set in Mexico!

  2. @Kat @ NoPageLeftBehind Yeah, I can get burnt out on memoirs really easily. So many of them seem to be so sad! This one deals with heavy topics but is sort of more joyous than anything else.


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