Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Meaning of Consuelo

The Meaning of Consuelo

A Novel

Judith Ortiz Cofer

Farrar, Straus and Giroux




La nina seria, the serious child. That's how Consuelo's mother has cast her pensive, book-loving daughter, while Consuelo's younger sister Mili, is seen as vivacious--a ray of tropical sunshine. Two daughters: one dark, one light; one to offer comfort and consolation, the other to charm and delight. But something is not right in this Puerto Rican family.

Set in the 1950s, a time when American influence is diluting Puerto Rico's rich island culture, Consuelo watches her own family's downward spiral. It is Consuelo who notices as her beautiful sister Mili's vivaciousness turns into mysterious bouts of hysteria and her playful invented language shift into an incomprehensible and chilling "language of birds." Ultimately Consuelo must choose: Will she fulfill the expectations of her family--offering consolation as their tragedy unfolds? Or will she risk becoming la fulana, the outsider, like the harlequin figure of her neighbor, Mario/Maria Sereno, who flaunts his tight red pedal pushers and empty brassiere as he refuses the traditional macho role of his culture.

This affecting novel is a lively celebration of Puerto Rico as well as an archetypal story of loss, the loss each of us experiences on our journey from the island of childhood to the uncharted territory of adulthood.

American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults, Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, Winner, ALA Best Books for Young Adults


The Meaning of Consuelo

FULANO, NA, n.m.f.: So-and-so, what's-his/her-name; tart, whore; Mr./Miss/Mrs. Nobody
María Sereno walked in his leisurely way toward the cart selling piragüas that appeared on our street corner...


Praise for The Meaning of Consuelo

“A Puerto Rican girl negotiates her own terms of survival in this fierce and funny novel by 'a writer of authentic gifts, with a genuine and important story to tell.'” —The New York Times

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Judith Ortiz Cofer

Judith Ortiz Cofer is a native of Puert Rico. She is a poet, essayist, and novelist whose books include The Latin Deli and The Line of the Sun, which the Los Angeles Times called "magical." She is the Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing at The University of Georgia.

Judith Ortiz Cofer

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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