Alvarado, Lisa

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Alvarado, Lisa

PERSONAL: Female. Education: Vermont College, B.A., 2000; Goddard College, M.F.A., 2004.

ADDRESSES: Home—2503B W. Winnemac, 2nd Fl., Apt. 3, Chicago, IL 60625. E-mail—lisa@lisaalvarado. net.

CAREER: La Onda Negra Press, founder and publisher, 1995—Chicago Public Library, Chicago, IL, artist teacher, 1995; R.E.A.C.H. Institute, Chicago, IL, artist instructor, 1996; General Woods Boys & Girls Club, Chicago, IL, artist instructor, 1996; WBEZ Radio, Chicago, IL, assistant producer, 1996; Gallery 37, Chicago, IL, lead artist, 1997. Exhibitions: "Five Women in the Tenth Month," WomanMade Gallery, Chicago, IL, 1993; "Festival Latino: A Showcase of Latino Poets," Chicago Public Libraries, IL, 1995; "Menarche, Menses & Menopause: Women and the Way of Blood," WomanMade Gallery, Chicago, IL, 1995; and "Video Reclamo," Centro de Bellas Artes de Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico, 1997.

AWARDS, HONORS: Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Ragdale Foundation, and the Pearl Foundation.


The Housekeeper's Diary (one-woman performance piece), Washington, DC, 2001.

(With Ann Hagman Cardinal and Jane Alberdeston Coralin) Sister Chicas (novel), New American Library (New York, NY), 2006.

Author of poetry chapbook Reclamo, La Onda Negra Press, and the poetry collection The Housekeeper's Diary, La Onda Negra Press; the author's poetry has appeared in Excurses, Hammer's and Rhino. Author's works have been featured in the Chicago Tribune and on Public Radio International.

SIDELIGHTS: Artist, writer, performer, and publisher Lisa Alvarado collaborated with Ann Hagman and Jane Alberdeston Coralin on Sister Chicas, a young-adult novel about three Latina teenaged girls from Chicago—Leni, Grachi, and Taina—who form a strong bond when they meet while working on their high school newspaper. In their attempts to confront the issues in their tumultuous lives, the girls gather each week at a local restaurant to hash out the details of their lives. Soon their bond as the "Sister Chicas" becomes the boost in confidence that each one needs. Puerto Rican Taina is dreading her quinceañera, the traditional celebration of a young woman's fifteenth birthday, due to the secret relationship she is having with Yusef, a Jamaican immigrant. Grachi, whose parents were professors in Mexico, has dreams of being a writer and has been accepted into an exclusive summer writers' retreat, but she fears she will disappoint her parents in choosing this opportunity over her daily commitments. Leni, who wants to be a photographer, has an Anglo mother who seems not to notice her daughter's fluctuating hair color and wild clothing, and doesn't recognize the struggle Leni is having in reconciling herself to her Puerto Rican heritage.

The novel, unusual in having been authored by three writers, evolved from discussions the three friends had about what their relationship would have been like if they had met as teenagers. "All three of us grew up hungry for novels that celebrated our friendships, families and Latino communties," wrote Alvarado and Cardinal in an article for the Writer. "We seized on the lack of such books and wrote a proposal targeting the burgeoning Latino-fiction readership." Each of the writers developed autobiographically based characters and then wrote collaboratively, sending each other chapters via e-mail. Critics received the novel warmly. Gillian Engberg, writing in Booklist, called the characters' questions about "what it means to be a Latina … bright and captivating," and a writer for Kirkus Reviews wrote that Sister Chicas "is a sweet … debut about friendship and loyalty."



Booklist, February 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of Sister Chicas, p. 26.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2006, review of Sister Chicas, p. 95.

Writer, January, 2006, Lisa Alvarado and Ann Hagman Cardinal, "Three Friends Turn a Dream into a Published Novel," p. 14.


Lisa Alvarado Home Page, (April 29, 2006).

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Alvarado, Lisa

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