The Meaning of Consuelo: A Novel

Front Cover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Nov 7, 2003 - Fiction - 200 pages
2 Reviews

La nina seria, the serious child. That's how Consuelo's mother has cast her pensive, book-loving daughter, while Consuelo's younger sister Mili, is seen as vivacious--a ray of tropical sunshine. Two daughters: one dark, one light; one to offer comfort and consolation, the other to charm and delight. But something is not right in this Puerto Rican family.

Set in the 1950s, a time when American influence is diluting Puerto Rico's rich island culture, Consuelo watches her own family's downward spiral. It is Consuelo who notices as her beautiful sister Mili's vivaciousness turns into mysterious bouts of hysteria and her playful invented language shift into an incomprehensible and chilling "language of birds." Ultimately Consuelo must choose: Will she fulfill the expectations of her family--offering consolation as their tragedy unfolds? Or will she risk becoming la fulana, the outsider, like the harlequin figure of her neighbor, Mario/Maria Sereno, who flaunts his tight red pedal pushers and empty brassiere as he refuses the traditional macho role of his culture.

This affecting novel is a lively celebration of Puerto Rico as well as an archetypal story of loss, the loss each of us experiences on our journey from the island of childhood to the uncharted territory of adulthood.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bderby - LibraryThing

The Meaning of Consuelo is a coming-of-age novel about a girl named Consuelo who is growing up in Puerto Rico. Consuelo explores her role within her family (as a woman, a sister, a daughter) as well ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bookworm12 - LibraryThing

A young Puerto Rican girl, Consuelo, tells stories about her family and neighborhood and about taking care of her outgoing younger sister. Her best friend is her oddball male cousin who moves to New ... Read full review


Title Page
Betrayals of the Tongue
The Meaning of the Word TRAGEDIA
The Lessons of the Forest
To Console to Comfort
Heavy Rain a Downpour
The AVE MARÍA and Other Flightless Birds

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2003)

Judith Ortiz Cofer is a native of Puert Rico. She is a poet, essayist, and novelist whose books include The Latin Deli and The Line of the Sun, which the Los Angeles Times called "magical." She is the Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing at The University of Georgia.

Bibliographic information