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A new romance novel explores Latino family dynamics


Alexis Daria, author of the bestseller 'You Had Me at Hola', this time writes about two young professionals balancing their relationship between their parents, their career aspirations and a shared romantic past.

By Cynthia Silva - NBC News

It is like the story of a soap opera.

Two Latino childhood friends reunite after not speaking for over a decade after their passionate kiss and, as they balance their own complex family dynamics with the fulfillment of their dreams, they have to grapple with their old feelings.

The plot of

A Lot Like Goodbye

, by author Alexis Daria

, which goes on sale Tuesday, is a romance that follows two young professionals whose jobs take them back to the New York neighborhood of the Bronx, where they grew up. When freelance graphic designer Michelle Amato teams up with California gym co-owner Gabe Aguilar to work on a marketing campaign for her new Manhattan gym, their mutual desire is undeniable.

This romance novel follows

You Had Me at Hola


the author's national


that focused on Michelle's famous cousin, Jasmine Lin Rodríguez, a Puerto Rican and Filipino, and her own love story.

However, the history between Gabe and Michelle, who are bisexual, is fraught with obstacles, such as overcoming trust issues, choosing the right career path, and how to cope with family expectations.

Alexis Daria's new novel is published this month.

Capture via NBC News

The Puerto Rican author, a native of New York, spoke to NBC News about her focus on Latino characters and their families.

"It's not that I feel like I have an obligation to do it," said Daria, when asked about the issue of Latino representation in her work.

"But I think it's important and I want to see these books published," he said.


I want these kinds of characters to be portrayed this way

; I can't just complain that this isn't happening fast enough. I have to do it myself and support the other authors that I know are doing it."

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The book begins by following Gabe, a Mexican-Puerto Rican, 13 years after he left Michelle and shed his parents' demanding expectations, becoming the co-owner of a famous celebrity gym in Los Angeles.

After an investor insists on opening a branch of the gym for the stars in New York City, Michelle - whose family is Puerto Rican and Italian - takes over his marketing campaign.

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The romance novel, which

includes excerpts from

Gabe and Michelle's

fan fictions

based on their favorite Latin childhood sci-fi show, shows how they both work on the business project, deal with their feelings, and see what the future holds.

Multicultural Latino families, the author said, were intentional.

"As Latinos we are not a monolith and I think that, often, we are put in the same bag. And sometimes it is easier to use the term Latino, Latina or


" said Daria.

"But I think that, even within that, it is important that we show that there are different cultures, different groups."

When she decided to start this romantic series, Daria thought about her own ties to her Latino cousins.

He said he decided that the series would highlight Michelle and her cousins, known as

the Power Cousins

, and that the romance "came" from there.

[Sales of digital books fall during the pandemic]


A Lot Like Goodbye

, Michelle maintains a close relationship with her family, while Gabe is practically estranged and struggles with his father's disappointment that he did not take over the family stationery after his graduation from high school.

Daria found it important to show the "realistic" joys and difficulties of dealing with parents and family members.


Any family has a complicated family dynamic

," he said, "but I think that particularly in Latino households there is a focus on the family, and this can sometimes be both a comfort and a discomfort."

Daria believes that it is normal, especially in younger generations, that there is "a feeling of testing limits or needing them in different ways when it comes to family members who are loving, but also a bit judgmental", he said between laughs.

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The author said that she really wanted to show families that they were willing to grow up and find a new and peaceful dynamic.

Michelle and Gabe struggle with their career aspirations and how they are put to the test


For Michelle, it's about finding confidence in her job after being burned out and betrayed by a colleague from her previous corporate marketing job.

For Gabe, it's thinking about the new expansion in Manhattan and whether that's what he really wants for his gym.

Pursuing creative dreams, Daria said, is not easy.

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"In the case of these two characters it was necessary for them to really analyze where they were and see if what they were doing was really a good fit for them," said Daria, "and then find the courage to be able to really admit what the next step was and give it".

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2021-09-15

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