It’s Hispanic Heritage Month, and one of the best ways to celebrate and honor Hispanic and Latino/x heritage is by reading Annette Chavez Macias’ novel, “Big Chicas Don’t Cry.” Published on September first, Macias’ brand new book is a beautiful piece of literary work centered around family, friendship, love and cherishing one’s Latinx roots.
Readers don’t just get one strong female protagonist in “Big Chicas Don’t Cry.” Instead, Macias gives us the narrative perspectives of four strong and awesome women. For just over 350 pages, readers have the privilege of following the journey of four cousins — Mari, Erica, Selena and Gracie — as they navigate the trying journey from adolescence into adulthood. Along this journey, these four cousins must cope with the difficulties of romance, being a Latina woman in the United States, the ups and downs of career aspirations and the loss of a loved one. While Mari, Erica, Selena and Gracie were inseparable as teenagers, Macias shows what happens when “the girls’ tight-knit bond unravels”. Will they be able to reestablish their crucial bonds? That is one of the driving questions of the novel, and readers stay rooting for the reunion of these four women.
All four women and narrative perspectives are relatable, lovable and unique. There’s Erica, a journalist who’s passionate about fútbol and who always speaks her mind. There’s Mari, a quiet dreamer who might just be the world’s best baker. There’s Selena, who’s stylish, sassy, hilarious and ambitious. And last but not least, there’s Gracie, a sweet, caring teacher who quietly dreams like Mari does. Surrounding these four cousins is a huge family that loves each of them dearly. The keystone of the family is none other than Welita, the great-grandmother of these four cousins who links everyone together and emphasizes one of the most important messages of the novel: “family is the most important thing in the world”.
“Big Chicas Don’t Cry” is filled with important messages that all readers should take to heart. Through the lived experiences of Mari, Selena, Gracie and Erica, Macias shows how crucial it is for women to speak their mind, stand their ground and be brave in the world we live in. There will be many times in life that men and society try to come along and box women in, especially women of color. Assumptions and prejudices are constantly thrown at Mari, Selena, Erica and Gracie, whether it be in the workplace, in romantic relationships or just in everyday interactions. These four cousins, including the usually quiet Gracie, increasingly speak their minds and take no shit from anybody. It’s empowering and reminds readers that we have the right to do the same in our own lives.
Macias’ work is heartwarming and wholesome. There were times that I cried alongside Mari, Erica, Selena and Gracie. There were also times that I laughed out loud reading this gem of a book, like when Gracie prays “Dear God, please don’t let me die of embarrassment. I don’t really think it’s possible, but just in case it is, please don’t let that happen. Amen.”
Macias also doesn’t shy away from writing about sex and sexuality. As a young woman myself, it was refreshing to read about four other young women and their journeys with sex and finding a positive, healthy relationship with their sexualities. Contrary to the title of the novel, it was also refreshing to read just how okay it is for big girls to cry. Macias reminds readers that crying is a completely valid, healthy way of releasing and processing emotions. Don’t let anybody shame you out of having a good cry.
“Big Chicas Don’t Cry” as a whole is a celebration of Latinx culture. Macias’ book is a place where one can truly cherish their Latinx heritage. Whether it be through music, familial traditions or food (such a central pillar throughout the book), Macias prompts readers to remember all the ways in which we can actively love and honor our cultures.