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Rios, Lara

Rios, Lara

PERSONAL:

Born in CA; married; husband's name Timothy (a financial planner); children: Marshall, Emily. Education: Attended Long Beach City College; graduated from University of California, Riverside. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, writing, watching, movies, working out, cooking, traveling.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Highland, CA.

CAREER:

Author, consultant, and motivational speaker. Taught elementary school in San Bernardino, CA, for seven years.

MEMBER:

Romance Writers of America.

WRITINGS:

Conquest/La Conquista, Encanto (New York, NY), 2000.

A Family for Raffi, Pristine Publishing (Highland, CA), 2001.

Becoming Latina in Ten Easy Steps, Berkley (New York, NY), 2006.

Becoming Americana, Berkley (New York, NY), 2006.

Also author of Lara's Scratch Pad Web blog.

SIDELIGHTS:

Elementary schoolteacher-turned-novelist Lara Rios is the author of works that examine the Latino culture in the United States, including Becoming Latina in Ten Easy Steps and Becoming Americana. "I'm basically a mutt," the author told Cathy Sova on the Romance Reader Web site. "My parents are from Argentina, but my family is made up of a mixture of Italians, Spaniards, and Frenchmen. I grew up here in the United States, although when I look back, I realize I was very sheltered. Americanization didn't come easy. I was raised ‘the Argentine way.’ My TV viewing was limited. I didn't eat American food (I was ten before I had a hamburger, eighteen before I had a burrito at Taco Bell). So I relied on books."

After spending seven years as an educator, Rios began her literary career as a romance novelist, penning a number of titles for Encanto, an imprint of Kensington publishers. Unfortunately, the company folded after publishing just one of Rios's novels, Conquest/La Conquista, the story of an unlikely love affair between business competitors. "In today's busy world where we often spend more time at work than at home, we sometimes find love where we least expect it," Rios stated on the Road to Romance Web site. "Neither character thought they could even be friends yet in the end they risk their hearts and their careers for each other." Rios later published a second romance novel, A Family for Raffi, about an abused child who helps unite his social worker with his foster father.

In Becoming Latina in Ten Easy Steps, Rios introduces readers to Marcela Alvarez, a successful Mexican-American woman who questions her ethnic identity after learning that her biological father, with whom her mother had an affair, is white. To affirm her heritage, Marcela establishes a plan that involves dating only Mexican men, learning to cook authentic Mexican dishes, and mentoring Lupe Perez, an at-risk Latina. "There are many steps in Marcela's journey—from dealing with her anger over being lied to by her parents, to contacting her birth father, and seeking out her ancestors' roots in Mexico—and Rios wisely allows the story to unfold over time, giving weight to Marcela's emotions and time for them to organically ripen in believable fashion," Wendy Duren noted on the Paperback Reader Web site. The critic added: "Marcela lives off the page because her actions are well motivated and she's intelligent, even if she doesn't always see herself or what she needs and wants clearly."

Lupe, Marcela's protégé, takes center stage in Becoming Americana, "a powerful depiction of life as a Latina in the United States and the personal struggles of one young woman trying to find her way in a confusing world," wrote Sabrina Marino on the Fresh Fiction Web site. Having escaped her impoverished, drug-plagued East Los Angeles neighborhood, Lupe now attends college and volunteers with troubled teens. When a story about her life runs in the school paper, Lupe becomes a celebrity of sorts, though she quickly grows uncomfortable with the attention. In Becoming Americana, observed Booklist critic Aleksandra Kostovski, "Rios blends heartfelt emotion with wry humor and a few dark moments."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 15, 2001, Nina C. Davis, review of Conquest/La Conquista, p. 206; October 1, 2006, Aleksandra Kostovski, review of Becoming Americana, p. 38.

ONLINE

Best Reviews Web site,http://thebestreviews.com/ (November 5, 2006), Harriet Klausner, review of Becoming Americana.

Fresh Fiction Web site,http://freshfiction.com/ (October 20, 2006), Sabrina Marino, review of Becoming Americana.

Lara Rios Home Page,http://www.lara-rios.com (March 1, 2007).

Lara's Scratch Pad,http://lararios.blogspot.com (March 1, 2007), author's Web blog.

Paperback Reader Web site,http://www.paperbackreader.net/ (March 6, 2006), Wendy Duren, review of Becoming Latina in Ten Easy Steps.

Press Enterprise Online,http://www.pe.com/ (January 18, 2007), Laurie Lucas, "Fitting In: Highland Author Writes about Adapting in a Multicultural Society."

Road to Romance Web site,http://www.roadtoromance.ca/ (September 19, 2000), interview with Lara Rios.

Romance Reader Web site,http://www.theromancereader.com/ (January 20, 2000), Cathy Sova, "New Faces: Lara Rios."

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