The Virgin's Guide to Mexico by Eric B. Martin
"Martin's earnestly beat novel tracks homely, studious Alma Price — resigned to being forgettable — as she disappears from her affluent Austin, Tex., home to trace her Mexican roots.
Alma deferred her freshman year at Harvard hoping to go to Spain, only to have her parents insist that if she doesn't go off to Harvard, she enroll at the University of Texas. Instead, Alma is determined to figure out how her chilly, beautiful Mexican mother, Hermelinda, managed to transform herself from a maid's daughter into a rich dot-com wife.
Armed with a year of Spanish, a lot of moxie and a cache of letters sent to her mother by her grandfather from Mexico City, Alma chops off her hair, assumes the moniker 'The Kid' and joins a gang of young American men headed for the border whorehouses. Alma's perspective emerges in a winning torrent of observations, and though a transvestite prostitute discovers her secret, she makes a pretty good boy.
Alternate chapters clarify Hermelinda's motivations for leaving Mexico and her secret tenderness for her troubled daughter, as Hermelinda and her husband (and Alma's father), Truitt, trace Alma's route to Mexico City with a detective's help. Part bildungs-road novel, part family saga and part identity lit, Martin's third novel is all heart."
- Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)