Best. Lesbian. Week. Ever. (September 5, 2008)

Thanks to tipster Vanessa Noble for cluing us in to the fabulous and funny Latina lesbian author Mayra Lazara Dole.

Dole’s latest book, Down to the Bone, has received all kinds of kudos, including a nomination for Best Book of 2009 from the American Library Association. She just received word that the novel also earned a place on the Rainbow nomination list and has been submitted for consideration to the Lambda Literary Awards and National Book Awards.

All that is impressive enough on its own, but given the fact that Down to the Bone is a young adult novel about a Cuban-American lesbian, aka torterilla, dealing with coming out in a conservative Catholic family and community, the recognition is almost miraculous. Not Mary’s-face-on-a-piece-of-toast miraculous, but close.

Main character Laura Amores is happily in love with her girlfriend Marlena until she gets caught with a somewhat explicit love note, which is read out loud to her class by a nun affectionately known as “Fart Face.” As if getting kicked out of her Catholic high school and home isn’t enough, GF Marlena is shipped off to Puerto Rico to marry a man.

I’m halfway through Down to the Bone and am completely hooked. Laura’s story is heartbreaking, to be sure, but the book is far from depressing, thanks to Dole’s honest, humorous writing style and Laura’s snarky personality. I wish I’d had this book when I was a teenager.

Laura’s experience mirrors Dole’s own, according to an interview with Worth the Trip.

“At 14, my first love and I were thrown out of high school due to a muy calliente love letter she sent me detailing our first time making love (too juicy to recount!). Much like Laura, I had a boyfriend, but my heart beat passionately only for one special girl.”

I emailed Dole to see if she would share some personal information about herself with and got this very funny reply.

I love papayas (slang for you-know-what but I’m honestly talking about the fruit), pineapples, finger bananas and long, cascading hair. I was raised in hot Miami. I came out at thirteen and was kicked out of an all-girl Catholic high school due to a sizzlin’ confiscated love letter written to me by my first girlfriend. As a teen, I was a hairstylist, studied nutrition, and worked part-time at several other jobs, including Djembe drumming, cooking, and landscape design, until I decided to become a full-time writer. I now live in exotic, humid, wild Miami with my beloved Damarys (aka: Astro Maniac)–she’s obsessed with Astrology and drives me nuts! If someone burps, it’s because their north node is in the seventh house of Sagittarius (or something like that). I write for a living and my short stories, and poetry, have been published by lesbo mags. I started my writing career with picture books depicting two rebel eight-year-old girls (for sure they’ll be MAJOR lesbos when they grow up!). I’m finishing another luscious lesbian book (packed with lesbians) but it’s Top Secret.

I, for one, can’t wait. For more information on Dole – including a hilarious account of her conversation with her non English-speaking mom about publication of her book – visit her site.

— by the linster

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