Serros, Michele (Michele M. Serros)
Serros, Michele (Michele M. Serros)
Born in Oxnard, CA; married Gene Trautman (a drummer; marriage ended). Ethnicity: "Mexican American." Education: Santa Monica City College, A.A.; University of California, Los Angeles, B.A. (Chicano studies), 1996.
Poet, novelist, and spoken-word artist. Road poet for Lollapalooza '94; National Public Radio, commentator for Morning Edition and host of Along for the Ride; American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., writer for The George Lopez Show,, 2002. Has taught poetry at inner-city schools and women's prisons.
Latino Spirit Award, California Latino Legislative Caucus.
How to Be a Chicana Role Model (stories), Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Honey Blonde Chica (young-adult novel), Simon Pulse (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to anthologies, including Humor Me: An Anthology of Humor by Writers of Color, University of Iowa Press, New World: Young Latino Writers, Bantam Doubleday, and Watchale! Poetry and Prose about Growing up Latino, Cricket Books. Recordings include Michele Serros: Selected Stories from Chicana Falsa, Mercury Records, 1997. Contributor to Los Angeles Times.
Poet, novelist, and short-story writer Michele Serros is the author of such critically acclaimed works as How to Be a Chicana Role Model and Honey Blonde Chica. She has also toured nationally with Lollapalooza as a road poet, served as a commentator on National Public Radio, and worked on the staff on the hit television series The George Lopez Show. According to Stacey Wiebe in the Ventura County Reporter, Serros is "a seasoned writer who's carved a career out of exploring the complexities of identity and what it really means to be a Latina." Of Serros's work, Beatriz Terrazas observed in the Dallas Morning News that "her writing—humorous and sometimes irreverent glimpses of Chicano life—reflects a woman who is used to straddling two cultures."
Born and raised in Oxnard, California, Serros took an early interest in writing and literature; at age eleven, she penned a letter to author Judy Blume and was encouraged by the noted writer to keep a journal. While attending Santa Monica City College, Serros published her first work, Chicana Falsa, and Other Stories of Death, Identity, and Oxnard. When the small press that published the book went out of business, Serros sold the remaining copies from her garage. Eventually the title was reissued by Riverhead Books and became a bestseller, helping to make a name for its author, by now a student at the University of California, Los Angeles. As Cheryl Klein noted in the Daily Bruin, Serros "hadn't even completed her degree in Chicana/o studies when professors began using Chicana Falsa in classrooms at UCLA—fellow students would corner the embarrassed author in the library to mine information for book reports."
In the poems and short stories included in Chicana Falsa, Serros "details the struggles she faced as an adolescent walking the fine line between her Mexican and her American cultures," according to Christine Granados in the Austin American-Statesman. The poem "Disco Gymnasium," for example, describes an incident in which Serros was mistaken as the cleaning woman at her school's gym, and in "Mi Problema," the narrator is ostracized because she speaks Spanish in a halting fashion. "Themes of identity and isolation, of growing up lonely, are both specific to Serros's characters and universal to everyone's experience," observed Patricia Holt in the San Francisco Chronicle. "Serros shows readers the pain she suffered at the hands of prejudice while growing up in Southern California," Granados remarked, noting that the poet's "honesty and humor cut across cultural lines."
In the autobiographical How to Be a Chicana Role Model Serros "once again serves up a slice of her own life, this time focusing on the lessons she has learned about being a writer and de facto role model," according to a critic in Publishers Weekly. Combining prose and poetry, the work chronicles the experiences of a "fictional" Chicana poet and author named Michele Serros. Divided into a series of vignettes, the book is organized around Serros's thirteen rules for being a good role model, one of which is: "Honor Thy Late-Night Phone Calls from Abuelita." The Publishers Weekly contributor called How to Be a Chicana Role Model "funny yet poignant," and a reviewer in the Albuquerque Journal praised the "humor and wit" of the volume.
Serros focuses on a teen readership in her first young-adult novel, Honey Blonde Chica, which concerns a student at an elite Southern California prep school. The American-born Evie Gomez identifies with the "Flojos," a group of laid-back surfer girls. However, she finds her loyalties tested when an old friend returns after a long absence and aligns with the rich Mexican "Sangros." "With Evie's story, Serros seeks to shed light on a different aspect of Latino culture by showing, in part, that not all Latinos are poor, uneducated laborers and that there are different challenges faced by the Latino middle and upper-middle class," Wiebe commented. "Similarly," the critic added, "she wanted to demonstrate that there is friction between various Latino subgroups." According to a critic in Kirkus Reviews, Honey Blonde Chica "will find an audience among Latina girls and fans of Gossip Girl-like romps."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Albuquerque Journal, September 10, 2000, "Book Mines Wit in Strange Land," review of How to Be a Chicana Role Model, p. F8.
Austin American-Statesman, June 7, 1988, Christine Granados, "Unworthy of the Color," review of Chicana Falsa, and Other Stories of Death, Identity, and Oxnard, p. D6.
Booklist, May 15, 2006, Linda Perkins, review of Honey Blonde Chica, p. 416.
Daily Bruin, August 24, 1998, Cheryl Klein, Chicana Falsa Writer Discovers Ups, Downs of Being True to ‘Ethnic’ Label." Dallas Morning News, August 15, 2000, Beatriz Terrazas, "Michele Serros, Author of How to Be a Chicana Role Model, Defies Labeling and Explores the Space between Cultures."
Entertainment Weekly, June 12, 1998, Margot Mifflin, review of Chicana Falsa, and Other Stories of Death, Identity, and Oxnard, p. 70.
Hispanic, December, 2000, Christine Granado, review of How to Be a Chicana Role Model, p. 64.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2006, review of Honey Blonde Chica, p. 637.
Kliatt, May, 2006, review of Honey Blonde Chica, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times, June 1, 1997, Michael Quintanilla, "A Poet's Passion," p. E1.
Publishers Weekly, June 19, 2000, review of How to Be a Chicana Role Model, p. 61.
San Francisco Chronicle, Patricia Holt, June 3, 1998, "A True Voice behind Falsa, p. E3.
Ventura County Reporter, Stacey Wiebe, June 1, 2000, "No Place like El Rio: Writer Michele Serros Brings Her Latest Book, Honey Blonde Chica, Home."
Michele Serros Home Page,http://www.muchamichele.com (November 20, 2006).