Cover image for The Latina's bible : the Nueva Latina's guide to love, spirituality, family and la Vida
The Latina's bible : the Nueva Latina's guide to love, spirituality, family and la Vida
Guzman, Sandra.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Three Rivers Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xii, 323 pages ; illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ1421 .G89 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Do you speak in English but dream in Spanglish? Do you crave homemade tortillas but end up buying them ready-made at the supermarket? Is yourpapi chuloa blue-eyed gringo, or do you have a Latin lover whoseespañolis better than yours? Listen up,hermanas: Today's Latina is a bicultural mamita who lives and loves in two worlds--and one of them is brimming with rich ethnic traditions and strong ties to home andfamilia. If you feel torn between these two worlds, and if you've been looking forun librothat will help you bridge the gap between the old-world ways of yourmamá,tías, andabuelitasand the world of opportunities in the twenty-first century, thenThe Latina's Bibleis the bookpara tí! With warmth, humor, and I've-been-there wisdom, author Sandra Guzmán tackles the real-worldcomplicacionesthat many Latinas face today, including: * The Latina sexual mystique--plus the truth about interracial dating and marriage * Finding professional success by networking Latina-style * Surviving your mother--without goingloca! * Taking care of yourself, body and soul The Latina's Bibleis a rich mix of real-life solutions, down-homedichos, inspiration, and support--the bedside companion nomujershould be without!

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Hip and chatty, with serious undertones, this "bible" will be a valuable resource for young Latina women. A Puerto Rican-born journalist and former editor-in-chief of Latina magazine, Guzman tackles media image versus self-image up front; she rejects the bureaucratic term "Hispanic" and celebrates the infinite variety of skin color, body shape, hair texture, regional dialect and national origin of today's Latinas as she shares personal anecdotes and advice on a wide range of modern conundrums, from dating a non-Latino man to combating workplace discrimination. Much of the book focuses on familial and especially romantic relationships, with Spanglish-inflected guidance on dating, marriage and Latino sexual mystique. There are also chapters on health, careers and spirituality, and a strong emphasis throughout on professional networking and mentoring of girls. In fact, the book is guided by a sense of community-oriented feminism. Sidebars feature illuminating statistics and thumbnail biographies of lesser-known women, such as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Latina elected to Congress, and activist Antonia Pantoja, the first Puerto Rican woman to receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Though Guzman ostensibly directs her book to all Latina women, her wise-older-sister tone will probably most appeal to younger women and teens. (Mar.) Forecast: According to Guzman, there are more than 16 million Latinas in the U.S., with the single biggest group being 35- to 40-year-olds, making the market for her book muy grande, especially as a gift to daughters and younger sisters. A splashy cover will help attract buyers. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Since the age of 12, Guzman, an award-winning journalist and former editor of Latina magazine, has wished for a book like this a celebration of Latinas as well as a clear and readable guide to the personal aspects of Latina life. Finally, she had to write it herself. Showing readers how to balance traditional values with new American ways, she fills every page with interesting sidebars, including facts, statistics, short biographies, web sites, and bibliographies. Love, dating, health, marriage, and spirituality are just a few of the topics covered in detail. Incorporated into the treatment of these issues are frank discussions of sexual abuse, gender inequality, and what it means to be homosexual in the Latin community. Few if any current titles embrace those concerns. Fun and informative, this is an excellent choice for public and academic libraries. Lisa Wise, Broome Cty. P.L., Binghamton, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-This is a book for all Latinas living in the U.S.-from the newly arrived to the oldest generation. Guzman writes with much sisterly love and respect, pointing out ways Hispanic women can meld the best of Latin culture with feminist-based U.S. values. She fosters a self-reliant, take-charge attitude in her readers, while encouraging healthy relationships and communication with family. Accompanying the banter and chat are sidebars containing all kinds of statistics, factoids, and quotes. No matter their specific backgrounds, Latinas are bound to see much of themselves and their families in this book, and leave it feeling proud, understood, and empowered. Teens who are having trouble convincing their families to let them leave home and go to an out-of-state college will find Guzman's advice ingenious. Undoubtedly, YAs will be drawn to the chapters on dating and relationships: they are frank and seem to cover all bases, including domestic violence, homosexuality, and dating a blanquito (white guy). The chapter "Going Home-to Your Roots" is especially poignant. It invites readers to visit the land of their ancestors, giving tips on how to maximize the pilgrimage, and even addressing the sensitive issue of visiting Cuba. Experiences of those Latinas who have made the journey (some of whom spoke no Spanish at first) can't help but touch the heart. Humorous, serious, and fun, this book will speak to young Hispanics.-Sheila Shoup, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Introduction: The Joy of Being Nueva Latina For most of our lives the lesson is to love ourselves even more deeply, especially because we are the survivors of colonization . . . that's our fight against injustice! -- Patrisia Gonzáles, Chicana-Kikapu writer I am a proud Latina. I am a proud American. I am not exotic. I am two cultures in one fabulous, curvaceous, café-con-leche body. I own English. I dream in Spanish. On most days, I'm delighted to explain this marvelous heritage to the curious and clueless who ask questions like, "So Sandra, what are you?" Other days I just repeat to myself, "I am what I am." But I want to tell you what I am, because I think once I do, you'll understand why I've written this book--para ti, mujer! As a Puerto Rico-born and U.S.-raised woman, I am layers of history that speak of beaches and snowflakes, rain forests and tenements, Spanish and English, spicy food and fast food, hip-hop and congas, apple pie and flan. I have two homes--an America that sometimes refuses to accept me as a legitimate daughter, and a Puerto Rico that sometimes denies me when my Spanish fails me. For as long as I can remember, I always yearned to belong neatly to just one of them. But greater forces were at play. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory with unresolved political and identity issues that date back more than a century. It's neither a state nor a sovereign nation, but an in-between political entity called a "commonwealth"--a euphemism for "colony." Puerto Rico is still trying to answer profound political questions about who it is as a nation--as a people and as a collection of individuals. We are simultaneously part of the United States and a member nation of the twenty countries that make up Spanish-speaking Latin America. When I think of Puerto Rico's political dilemma, I am reminded of an old Mexican dicho: "Poor Mexico--so close to the U.S., so far from God." I am a Latina who was born into a borderland and raised in a cultural middle. When I was a little girl, my family--my mom, two sisters, and two brothers--made its way north. My mother was a seamstress, but when the factory where she made sneakers (Pro-Keds) closed down, she packed up suitcases full of tropical clothes and we left El Tuque, the small fishing village we called home. We moved to the immigrant working-class town of Jersey City, New Jersey, where some of our other relatives had settled years earlier. Some say that the best thing Jersey City has to offer is a view of Manhattan, but it was there that I became a Jerseyrican--a combination of American and boricua from New Jersey. There was no such thing as bilingual education in my public school, or even English as a Second Language; it was strictly sink or swim. (Ironically, the school was named in honor of Roberto Clemente, the Puerto Rican baseball legend. Go figure!) But as the daughter of strong and clever people, I learned English quickly. Unfortunately, I also learned to forget Spanish--though I picked up a lot of Spanglish. Lunch, for example, became lonche; roof, rufo; the building's superintendent, el super. Though I was quickly absorbing mainstream americana ways, everything in my Jersey home spoke fluent Latino. The food, the music, the language, la familia's deep religious fervor, las fiestas, las novelas, the traditions. Even the house decor screamed Latino--from the plastic-covered sofas and the pictures of virgencitas to the thousands of ceramic figurines of elephants, angels, and coquís, Puerto Rico's thumb-size singing frogs. My barrio friends were fellow boricuas, Dominicans, Cubans, Ecuadorians, and other South and Central Americans, but also Irish, Polish, Asians, and Italians. It wasn't so much a melting pot as a big mixed ensalada. My Latino friends and I had different accents when we spoke our broken Spanish, but we shared the same basic cultural Latino customs: family is blood, have faith in Dios and church, all viejitos are respected, girls are of the home, boys not. English was like a glue for us; it held the different Latin American banderas together. I remember a lot of warmth and cariño in this very diverse Latino immigrant community. Before long, I became the family translator. And just as quickly as I was learning to own the English language, I was embracing American behaviors--the attitude, the fashions, the music, and, ay, Dios mio, the independent and "unbecoming" gringita habit of always expressing my opinion! Growing up, I found it a challenging task to explain myself to Mami. It didn't help that she never really learned English and I was quickly losing my Spanish; she never accepted what she called this americana in me. She wanted me to be her idea of a good Puerto Rican girl forever. But I was becoming something else: a new breed, a new woman, a confluence of Pan-Latino consciousness and American influences: yo me convertí en una nueva latina. Identifying as Latina was a politically conscious move on my part. I understood "Hispanic" to be a term made up by the U.S. government, so I didn't want anyone labeling me that way. On the other hand, the friendlier "puertorriqueña" and "Jerseyrican" described only parts of me, not the whole. As a Nueva Latina I am a combination of all of the Latinos I came of age with: Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, Tejanas, Chicanas, Dominicans, and Central and South Americans, as well as the African Americans, Asian Americans, and Anglos who I call friends. As a Nueva Latina, I am three languages: English, Spanish, and Spanglish. I embrace fast food as well as (and more often than) home-cooked feasts. My opinion counts--within my family and outside it. I stand up to authority when I need to, with my eyes firmly planted on those I challenge. I refuse to look away in shame or fear. I never walk with my head bowed, like those campesinos made so famous by the great painter Diego Rivera. Blood is sacred. I honor it by honoring me. I own my body; as much as I believe in God, it is not his place to tell me when and with whom I shall share it. I am neither a martyr nor a sirvienta. I refuse to be defined solely by how well I cook a plate of arroz con pollo or how nicely I can keep house. My Latina femaleness is beyond the walls of my casa and womb. Are you feeling me yet? I am--we are--indeed a new breed. We are new women. Calling myself Latina (instead of, say, "Puerto Rican" or--no lo quiera Dios--"Puerto Rican American") means validating and celebrating the fact that I feel closer kinship with a Chicana raised in Los Angeles or a Tejana raised in San Antonio than I do with a Puerto Rican woman raised in Ponce, where I was born. Everything, from our survival in America's schools to Univision and The Brady Bunch, has made us comadres. Not long ago my son reminded me of this powerful reality experienced by so many of us. He was watching a kids' show on television and started screaming that the Puerto Rican kid had won a pie-eating contest. I rushed to the living room and saw that a boy named Luis Jiménez, draped in a Mexican flag, had devoured fifteen pies in two minutes. I said, "Listen, baby, this kid isn't Puerto Rican. He has the Mexican flag draped over him, so I think we can safely assume that he's Mexican American." My son looked at me with a cocked eye, as only a little kid can, and said, "It's the same thing, Mom!" He understood the difference--he knows the colors of both the Cuban flag (his dad's side) and the Puerto Rican flag--but he saw parts of himself in that other little brown boy, and could celebrate the boy's victory as his own. This is what has happened to us, the sons and daughters of Latin America's immigrants--a feeling of Pan-Latino consciousness and kinship. We are an hecho en América reality. So sure, as I said at the get-go, Latinas in the United States battle racism, discrimination, border harassment, racial profiling, police brutality, invisibility, and exploitation. We battle old-country traditions that sometimes stifle us. Yet despite--or maybe because of--all the external and internal luchas, U.S. Latinas are among the fiercest and strongest women I know. We or our foremothers crossed oceans, rivers, and time zones and survived nightmares to get to America, and we continue to survive and thrive en América. We raise families in homes and neighborhoods deemed dysfunctional by society, and look great while we're doing it. We've made up a new language, Spanglish. We've made up a new culture with a synergy of rhythms old and new. We've made up new rules that combine Mom and Abuela's old ways with new and more modern ones. We are true survivors. And that is because U.S. Latinas--those of us who speak Spanish and those of us who don't--are a new breed, and the diversity of our faces, values, and traditions is at the heart of the American future. As a Nueva Latina I pledge allegiance to both parts of my soul, the "American" and the Latin American within. But no matter how warmly I embrace my inner Anglo or African American chica, there are some things that I can do only in my native tongue: I curse, dream, and make love in español. And it's physical, too--I can go only so many days before my body craves pasteles, arroz con habichuelas, mole chicken, and anything with chiles; or my soul yearns for an Ismael "Maelo" Rivera salsa or Juan Gabriel ballad. Coming to terms with my cultural identity--and feeling comfortable with the different parts of me that make me who I am--has been an emotional roller-coaster ride. During my adolescence, surrounded by my very Latino neighborhood and family, identity was a nonissue; my struggles then were around acculturation. I was not allowed to date, unlike my non-Latina friends; I was expected to stay a virgin until I married. And even if I went to college and embarked on some fabulous career, if I ever hoped to be a complete woman I'd have to marry, have kids, and cook a mean arroz con gandules. It wasn't until I got to college, when I encountered a larger America, that being a Latina came to feel like a burden. I continually had to explain myself to strangers. I often felt that I had to choose sides: white or black. This country's obsession with race and nationality didn't allow me to celebrate the joy of being Latina. Many of us go around unaware that we carry baggage that prevents us from being proud of la raza and feeling entitled to the riches this country has to offer. Too many of us adopt a form of cultural denial--for instance, by not using an accent on our name, either because we never knew it carried one or because "it doesn't look right." We even go to lengths to Americanize our Latino surnames: Garcia becomes something that sounds more like Garsha, or Jiménez is pronounced "JIM-uh-nez." We are quick to claim our Spaniard abuela and deny the india or africana one. And for those of us who grow up in the suburbs with very few Latino families around, the burden to fit in, the discomfort that sometimes we are made to feel because we are Latino, is even greater. I understand why some of us have trouble being proud of our heritage. We've grown up in an America that sees us in terms of negative stereotypes or doesn't see us at all. And it doesn't matter how much our familias hammer on about "raza pride" either. At some point or another, we start to doubt that our heritage is all that great. I have a friend who grew up in a border town in Texas, the state we all know was once part of Mexico. When she was growing up her parents did not want her to speak Spanish outside the home. They didn't want her to be a victim of the vicious discrimination that they had to endure, so Spanish became a secret family language that no one besides la familia should know about. Ultimately, she was taught to forget her people's language, but her parents' good intentions didn't spare her anything. Gringos assumed she could speak Spanish; Latinos questioned her identity because she couldn't roll her r's. Today my amiga is in Spanish-language immersion classes, trying to claim a heritage that was denied her. And what happened to her is far from unique. THE COCONUT I WAS, THE MANGO I'VE BECOME As a college student, I tried changing my name to Sandi Rodgers (Rodríguez is my maiden name). When I told my mom of my decision, I think she thought alien professors had abducted her hija. My brothers and sisters, who'd stayed in Jersey City, thought I was trying to "go white." In the pain and process of finding myself, I just wanted to blend in. I thought with a different name, a less Latino name, I could erase history and everything that made me feel "less than." I hated always being "other," or "exotic." (I certainly never saw myself as exotic, even though others did, and still do!) Any of these feelings sound familiar? So for several years I was a coconut--brown on the outside, "white" on the inside. In other words, I had a serious blanquita complex. I even picked up a silly California Valley girl accent to cover up my Spanish-Jersey-urban rhythm. Can you imagine? All this because I wanted to "fit in." Later, still trying to find my way, I adopted a so-called black attitude and embraced everything urban and black. I felt closer to the cause and pain of my African American sisters. And I could certainly claim African heritage, since my father is Afro-Boricua. I claimed anything but Puerto Rican heritage, anything but Latino roots. Thank God my mother, my friends, and my family finally knocked some sense into me! Through them, I got history lessons; doses of my native culture through art, music, and storytelling; trips to my homeland and other Latin American destinations; and, more important than anything, love--love of myself and my people, which helped me heal the wounds of cultural battle. Today I can proudly reclaim my culture, and I do--every day. I finally came to understand that this cultural amalgam is a gift, a marvelous and exquisite joy. I can take pleasure in this Pan-Latino joy within and all around me: the music, the families, the racial diversity--las indias, las mestizas, las negras, las rubias, las morenas, las bajitas, las flacas, las gorditas--the novelas, the food. Ay, que rico, our food! Driving in my car, I flip from salsa to rock 'n' roll to boleros to rancheras to elevator music to hip-hop, and it feels great that a little of me lives in of all these diverse worlds. I find joy in the laughter, the ancient spirits, the bochinche or chisme, the cadence, the cariño, and the chistes of our people. For so many years I worried that my latinidad was a handicap, an obstacle I'd have to climb over or walk around every day in my career. Now I see that accepting myself--Latina hips, skin, accent, and everything else--has been the key to my personal and professional success. The power that self-affirmation has had in my career and personal life is nothing less than remarkable. There is extraordinary power in embracing, openly, publicly, and proudly, one's latinidad. Soy Latina, si--but I'm different from Latinas a generation ago. My lifestyle reflects a combination of Old World beliefs and new American ways. I light candles to my santos and virgencitas, and have parties for my dead ancestors. I've taught my son to leave grass and water for pretend camels and their Three Kings, who in turn leave presents under his bed. While I celebrate the individual warrior in me--as the "me generation" was taught to do--my family is still like a fortress. They lift me and ground me; they're as important to my life as water is to a growing flower. Mom, sisters, brothers, and best friends go into the equation when I have to make major life decisions. Sometimes blood comes first, even at the expense of my personal priorities. So much of me is comfortable with Old World values. But the schizophrenia kicks in when that Old World clashes with my New World. I am an unabashed feminist. I employ a cleaning lady. I have hired a nanny. I am not defined by the house that I keep nor the man and son that I so deeply love. I am not my mother or abuelas, nor do I want to be, though I love and respect them dearly. I do not believe that being a sacrificada is a noble thing. I am deeply spiritual, but I don't go to church three times a week, as Mom does. I have learned to challenge those in positions of power over me (first teachers, then college professors, and finally bosses) when I'm not treated fairly. When I worked in television, if I hadn't looked my boss in the eye and told her why I should produce the next special, I would not have won an Emmy in 1995. I see ways in which old Latino traditions and values have morphed with my new Latina American lifestyle in almost every area of my life. And as uncomfortable and challenging as that constant reconciling can be, I have no desire to reject it--that daily synthesizing makes me me; and it makes you you. You are a special blend of tradición and the modern. Today's Latinas are blessed to live in a time when it doesn't have to be either/or, because it can be both: American y Latina, career woman and good hija. We have choices, and can carve out lifestyles that fulfill our individual dreams and goals without peros or, ay, bendito, shame or guilt. We are so racially diverse that for non-Latinos, and surprisingly even some Latinos, this diversity can be confusing. Our skin color ranges from the whitest shade of pale to the darkest shade of ebony, including everything in between. I happen to be a café con leche shade. What are you? And then there's the range of our body shapes. From the Selena and Jennifer Lopez big nalgonas type to the plumpness you see in Botero's paintings to the flacas you see in some women's magazines and on TV (if not in real life!). And our hair texture is just as varied: it is Chinese-straight to African curly; it is blond, red, brown, black, and any shade made by Clairol! Unfortunately, many of us still have superficial prejudices about who "qualifies" as Latina. My friend, a psychologist, told me that after she dyed her hair blond, someone called the office asking to speak to a Latina doctor and the receptionist told the caller that there were no Latinas in the office--my friend did not qualify as Latina since she was a "blond." Dark Latinas get it in other ways. Another amiga, a marketing director, gets so frustrated when she meets fellow Latinos who marvel at how this "black woman" speaks such great Spanish--they think it's so cool that a "sister" has learned their tongue! My friend constantly has to explain, "Pero, soy Latina!" The fact is, Latinas embody every difference in the world. Some of us are married (to men or to women), some are single and happy, some are housewives, some are single moms, and some are childless by choice. We are straight, gay, bi, and undecided. Some of us live in the barrio where our great-grandparents settled; others have moved to the suburbs or across the country. We are descendants of people who were here before this country was a country, or just recently arrived from south of the border. Some of our parents speak no English, some speak not a lick of español, and many others switch easily between Spanish and English. (I fall into that last category. Where are you in the language spectrum?) We are many women, with many faces and many languages. But as different as we are, there are some things nearly all Latinas share no matter where we came from or when: familia (think how much we love our abuelitas); faith (think how much we love our virgencitas and santos and papa Dios); love of food; love of music; and the gender politics that insists las mujeres son de la casa, los hombres de la calle (no matter how much our lives as Nueva Latinas disprove it). ¿Me entiendes? Another thing we share is a particular ignorance of our own place and value in "the big picture." The truth is that Latinas and Latinos have inspired America. We have been instrumental in making it the powerful nation it is today, and we have changed American culture--not just since the "Latin Explosion" but from the very beginning. From California to New York, to Texas, Illinois, and Florida, our contributions to this nation in the arenas of politics, entertainment, sports, food, music, fashion, literature, and style have been enormous. We are the largest ethnic group in this nation. Demographers predict that by the year 2050, four out of every ten Americans will be of Latino descent. But we don't have to wait until then to be influential. Our buying power is already in the billions each year. Politically we can swing national elections. (Have you noticed how Anglo politicians love to drag out their one distant Latino relative to get our attention and--they think--our votes?) There is no need or reason to reject our language, culture, looks, music, or heritage, because all those things are America! HOW TO USE THIS LIBRO I first dreamed of having a book like this to turn to when I was in my teens. I felt that the Church was stifling me, I had ongoing battles with my mom, and I wanted to do all the normal things my non-Latina friends were doing: hanging out, dating, and wearing what my mom considered wild clothes. I felt as if I was different from everyone, all alone, and I wished there were a book to show me I wasn't; to show me that I was one of many, and that I belonged. This is the book I wished for. In it, I share my experiences, the experiences of other Latinas, and the "rules" I've come up with for living a rich and rewarding Latina life. There's no "right way" to read this book: you can pick and choose chapters that interest you most or read from cover to cover. Along the way, you will find inspiring quotes, sidebars, quizzes, and interesting information about our Latino and Latina population. I suggest that you have a pen handy for making notes, and don't be afraid to write in this book. Make it yours by highlighting, underlining, and circling anything you want. Many of us don't write in our books because that was a cardinal rule in our public school days, but mija, this book is yours, for growth, for fun, and for reference. You can also keep a journal while reading it--there's no better way to see yourself grow than when you put pen to paper and reflect on your life. Because your Latina experience, like mine, is unique, this book can only guide you to the path of understanding and relishing that experience; only you can make the experience your own. You will also find recipes, remedios, and baños of all sorts included in the various chapters. Many of these home remedies were shared by viejitas, vecinas, friends, and family members alive and gone, so I've given these recetas the names of the women who shared them with me. (Check out Fragancia's hair-growth recipe on page 71, which uses shoe sole and cinnamon. I know it sounds gross, but I've used it and it works!) There are also source lists and references to books I love, all at your fingertips. There are many regional and universal Spanish words and dichos peppered throughout the text. You know that there are some things that only Spanish can capture--those wonderful "abuela-isms" and bits of folk wisdom we all grew up with. The first chapter of this "bible" is all about the generation gap between our parents--especially our mothers--and us, their grown-up, independent, and "gringa" hijas. If your mother is still alive, then you know how much Latina mothers meddle in their daughters' lives. You understand how challenging it can be to choose a lifestyle that may be very different from what they expect or want for us, and you know the role that "el que dirán," or "what will they say," plays in their lives, and thus, yours. You've probably wondered at least once how you can be true to yourself without having to ban your disapproving mother (father, familia) from your life. And while most of us ultimately survive the pressures of acculturation, a growing number of teenage Latinas feel themselves alone, not understood by their families and the larger society. This chapter addresses all these issues and offers suggestions for dealing with them; it also relates stories of women who've dealt with this, and what worked for them. The second chapter explores the subject of beauty. Yes, Latinas are beautiful, not just in the racial and ethnic diversity I mentioned earlier but also in our much-imitated and admired sense of estilo. Yet so many of us still grow up feeling ugly. This chapter looks at the ways our sense of our own beauty is undermined and offers perspectives to help you fill in those potholes in your self-esteem. You also get my six-step soulful beauty makeover, an easy, do-it-yourself beauty treatment that works from the inside out and the outside in. The third chapter is all about our health. Did you know that the more time we spend in this country, the worse our collective health gets? We top the charts for obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer, and it's all related to cultural taboos and lifestyle choices. Luckily, each of us has the power to change, and this chapter offers a gift basket of tried-and-true ways to make those changes. I'm living proof that they work, and if you aren't yet, you will be soon. The fourth chapter, on friendship, is one of my favorites. One way to soften the blows and overcome the challenges we encounter is to surround ourselves with a strong network of Latina friends. This chapter helps you start a Latina "talk circle" in your city or town. My group is called LIPS--short for Latinas In Power, Sort of. What will you call your grupito? Chapter 5 is called "Centering Your Soul: Spirituality Latina Style." Religion and spirituality are at the center of every Latino family, but so much has changed in the way that we, las nuevas latinas, practice religion. Do you have an altar? Have you forgotten what virgencita you should pray to if you want that job? Is your spiritual path far from the mainstream? Check out the fascinating sidebars that address the concerns of our spiritual lives. Now, I know that most of you don't need my help in the dating scene. After all, it's true what they say: we are Latin lovers. We know how to catch and keep a good man. But I felt that it was important to let it be known that we do have our own dating rules in the barrio. So read chapter 6, "Secrets of Latina Dating," and let me know if I have missed any of your favorites. Sexuality plays a big role in our lives, and yet as a community, talking openly and honestly about sex is still a rare occurrence in our families. If your mother was like mine, this topic, the subject of chapter 7, was never discussed except for the expectation that I had to remain a virgin until marriage. My vagina was always referred to by a euphemism. Check out the sidebar of the cuchie euphemisms gathered from all over the Spanish Americas! Do popina, totito, or la cosita ring a bell? In addition, because I feel so strongly that we must start to demystify our vaginas, I included another list of street cuchie names in each of our Latin American countries. My mother thought I was being very sucia when she overheard a conversation between my sister Mari and me about this sidebar. Mom cautioned that I should be a little more sofisticada. But that is the precisely my point, that we should be able to demystify and talk about our vaginas sin vergüenza or apologies. Ay, Dios mio, on love and relationships there is so much to discuss, and I do that in chapter 8. I know that most of our struggles as Nueva Latinas center around relationships with our mates. As Mexican author Angeles Mastretta writes, intelligent women fall in love the way all women do--like complete idiots. The sirvienta we didn't know we were comes out too! Yes, I have been there. Have you? However, we have made new rules. And just like there are Nueva Latinas living la vida buena out there, there are our counterparts, this beast I call the Nuevo Latino. These Hispanic men have broken tradition and become partners of their Latina girlfriends and wives. Just as we have had to relearn and discard those stifling gender politics about where las mujeres belong, so too have many of our Latino brothers. If you are part of the growing number of Latinas who are dating (or married) outside la raza, then chapter 9 is for you. Make sure you give your non-Latino papi chulo this quiz. Chapter 10 is chock-full of information to help you find professional success. Do you have trouble challenging authority? I did, and this is but one of the self-imposed cultural complejos that can stymie our careers. So, go ahead: check out how you ask for that raise and promotion without shame. Chapter 11, on going home, is really about the importance of reconnecting with your homeland--whether this land is now part of the United States or somewhere south of the border or the in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands. The land has a special way of allowing for profound spiritual connections. In addition, it allows you to explain yourself better to those who will undoubtedly ask, "So, where are you from?" Finally, the last chapter is an ode to our little Latina girls. As I look at how much we have accomplished, I can only be saddened by the statistics that place our younger hermanitas in a cycle of teenage pregnancy, and by high school dropout charts. If each of us gives back a little of our time to one Latina girl who needs to know a real-life role model, then each of us is helping in their future and our collective Latino future. It is my hope that this book is one you will share and grow with. Whenever you get that feeling of Damn, this is hard, I feel so alone, pick up this book. I guarantee you'll find that it addresses what you're dealing with, offers you tried-and-true suggestions, and steers you to other sources of help. Let this book offer you comfort in the knowledge that you, this Latina who lives simultaneously in two worlds, have a sister and a sisterhood of hermanas who share your challenges, frustrations, and joys. While the specifics of your life and mine can't possibly be the same, you'll find that many of the thoughts, experiences, and feelings are; I hope you'll focus on what we share. I don't mind at all when people think I'm Mexican, Dominican, Cuban, Colombian, Chicana, Ecuadorian, Peruvian, Salvadorean, and so on--just like my son with the pie-eating champ, I'm much more interested in what we have in common than where we differ. If we look past the surface, we can all see deep parts of ourselves in one another. So I encourage you to read with your heart. Some women have shared their lives with me on the condition that their names remain anonymous; many of their stories deal with issues still shrouded in taboo. I respected the anonymity and encouraged them to tell others about their experiences. Read with your heart, and I promise you that you will recognize parts of our collective story in your own life. One last warning: Sometimes this book digs into subjects that "good" Latina girls aren't supposed to talk about. If these subjects generate sparks, I hope they light a flame of conversation, of caring dialogue between you and your family, friends, and lovers. Because as much as we're a culture of talkers, I don't believe we talk enough about what matters most. In the middle of all the lively chatter, there is a culture of silencio, a refusal to talk about painful or embarrassing parts of our past. The intention of the silence is rarely to cause hurt, but secrets only make hurt go deeper. Let's start talking with one another, really talking. Let this book and its "rules" be your mentor, your amiga, and your hermana--and let us show the world that what they've seen of the Nueva Latina so far is just the tip of the iceberg! Pa' lante, Orale--and go on, girl! Excerpted from The Latina's Bible: The Nueva Latina's Guide to Love, Spirituality, Family, and la Vida by Sandra Guzman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.