By Tracy Montoya, RBTB Contributing Editor
Did you know that National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15? I’ve often wondered what was up with that. I mean, all the other heritage months get a full month—none of this dividing up two months business. So one day, I finally Googled “What is up with Hispanic Heritage Month?” and discovered that its start date is Independence Day for five Latin American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras.
In celebration of our crazy month, I pulled Julia Amante’s "Evenings at the Argentine Club" out of my monolithic book collection. It’s a rich, emotional story about self-discovery, family ties, and the meaning of home, especially when that word simultaneously applies to two different worlds.
Many Latinas in the US live under their immigrant parents’ roofs and watchful eyes until they get married, and Victoria Torres is no exception. She works at her father’s restaurant, regularly goes to the local Argentine club—the heart of the Argentine community in southern California—with her mother, and is the quintessential good girl.
When her father confides that he’s going to expand his restaurant into a chain—with the expectation that she’ll continue to work for him—it’s a big wake-up call. The American side of Victoria doesn’t want to toil in the restaurants forever, but the Argentine side recoils at the thought of disappointing her parents.
Then her childhood friend Eric Orteli walks into the Argentine club one night. Successful, confident, and ridiculously good-looking, the real estate investor’s life took the opposite path of Victoria’s. Instead of sticking close to his family and following the career goals they’d prescribed for him, he’d left home as soon as he became an adult. That created some tension between him and his father, so he’s hasn’t been home in a long time.
But now he’s back, and he and Victoria fall easily into their old friendship—and something more. He inspires her to break free from her parents’ rigid expectations and embrace her own “American dream” to be an interior designer. And she helps him start to see the beauty in the community he couldn’t wait to leave behind years ago.
As their attraction grows, so does Victoria’s trepidation. Can she trust her heart to someone with so little rooting him to one place, who doesn’t seem to value family and community as much as she does? And should she really jump from one man’s home to another’s, just when she’s starting to grow wings?
"Evenings at the Argentine Club" is a compelling exploration of one woman’s search for her identity and of what it means to fall in love just as you’re discovering who you are. While the themes are universal, details about Argentine customs and culture add unique depth. Evenings at the Argentine Club is a gorgeous romance—both between Eric and Victoria and between the Ortelis, the Torres family, and la patria.
If you want to get in on the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, the perfect way to start is to --
Buy the book.
Have you ever felt stuck in a rut, and what did you do to get out? And did the title of this book make anyone else bust into the "Evita" song catalog, or was it just me?