Conclude One Book One Valley program with a unique Chicana perspective | VailDaily.com

Conclude One Book One Valley program with a unique Chicana perspective

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"The Last of the Menu Girls" tells the coming-of-age story of a young Latina woman in the southern U.S.
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What: An evening with Denise Chavez, author of the 2019 One Book One Valley Community Read selection, “The Last of the Menu Girls.”

When: Thursday, 5 p.m.

Where: Colorado Mountain College in Edwards.

More information: onebookonevalley.com.

We are all familiar with the quintessential coming-of-age story, where one tries to find themselves as they transition from one phase of life to the next. Yet, few protagonists have the charm, pull and relevance of Rocio Esquibel, a young girl whose struggle to find her place in the world fills the pages of “The Last of the Menu Girls.”

Meet the author Denise Chavez at Colorado Mountain College for the conclusion of One Book One Valley. Chavez’s seminal work was selected earlier this year for the eighth OBOV program.

Her tale of a young woman growing up in the borderland of New Mexico, Texas and Mexico, is a story of a girl stuck between worlds — both real and imagined.

“I wanted to write about a young woman’s struggle in becoming herself and understanding who she is in the overwhelming swirl of family,” Chavez said in a press release.

This is a struggle that she is intimately familiar with, in her own life.

“How does one leave home? Can one ever leave home? And if one does, what does that mean? The stories tumbled out of me,” Chavez recalled, “and in many ways, it is the most autobiographical of my work.”

Still, it is not necessarily a story that all have experienced, which is what drew the OBOV committee towards it as a selection for this year’s valley wide read.

“It is absolutely essential that the committee selects diverse books,” said Lori Barnes, Town Librarian of the Vail Public Library, in the release. “This year’s title was chosen not only with our larger community in mind but also our students. It is important for our students to be exposed to a variety of different authors and types of writing and to see that literacy goes beyond the classroom and can build bridges within the community long after school is over.”

For the eighth year in a row, the OBOV committee worked through an extensive list of books to find the right fit. The book was picked for its literary merit, interesting characters, wide appeal and cultural relevance. Since the beginning of the year, colleges, high schools, book clubs and readers across the Vail Valley have picked up Chavez’s book and participated in programming leading up to the finale.

Work from a leading Chicana author like Chavez may be even more crucial than ever before.

“In this challenging time for Refugees, immigrants and migrants, it is good to remember we are all one family,” Chavez said. “I am thrilled to be the valley’s read and a representative of my culture and community from the U.S. and Mexico.”

Barnes hopes that this will be yet another launching point for discussion and community unity. “I truly want everybody to ‘be on the same page’ and share a common topic for conversation no matter where they are — at the grocery store, in the bank, at the post office, and especially in our schools and in our public libraries.”