Excerpt from Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Barbara the Slut and Other People

by Lauren Holmes

Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes X
Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2015, 272 pages

    Paperback:
    Aug 2016, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite
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HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO TALK TO YOU?

In Mexico City the customs light lit up green, which was lucky because I had fifty pairs of underwear with tags on them in my suitcase. They were from Victoria's Secret and they were for my mom to sell to the teenagers in her town for a markup of three hundred percent. She managed a hotel in Pie de la Cuesta, a fishing town six miles west of Acapulco, and she said the kids there wanted this underwear more than marijuana. I thought this sounded like a second grader's plan, but I said I would do it because I hadn't visited her in three years.

In addition to bringing my mom the underwear, I was supposed to use this trip to tell her I was gay, to ask her to start talking to Grandpa again so I didn't have to feel bad about taking his tuition checks, and to generally make up for the ten years I was in California, in middle school and high school and college, and she was in Mexico, in the city and then at the beach.

She was supposed to meet me at the airport, but at the last minute she told me it was safer to take buses than cars late at night. She said I had taken buses in Mexico before but I was pretty sure I hadn't. All the other times I'd visited my mom in Mexico, she'd been living at her parents' house in Mexico City, and Grandpa's driver would come and get me at the airport.

My mom told me to take a taxi from the airport to the south bus station, a bus from there to Acapulco, and another bus from Acapulco to Pie de la Cuesta. In Mexico City, the taxi passed the exit for Río Piedad, and I wished I were going to Grandpa's house. My mom had told me not to tell him I was coming, but now I wondered if it would be a good way to get her to talk to him, to tell her she had to come to his house if she wanted to see me. In the meantime I could go to sleep right away, and swim in Grandpa's pool, and have his driver go get me tacos.

I slept on the bus to Acapulco, and when we got there it was still dark. I was half awake waiting for the bus to Pie de la Cuesta and when it came it wasn't a bus with air-conditioning and a stewardess and soda and chips like the one I'd just taken. It was a city bus that wound along the coast at what felt like a hundred miles an hour, but when the bus wasn't turning and I wasn't looking off the dark cliff, I realized it was probably more like twenty. The five other passengers were asleep. Only the bus driver and I were awake and listening to the staticky radio.

The sun rose behind the bus. I started to get nervous when we wound down the cliff. My mom said that when the bus got to town and passed her pink hotel, El Flamenco, I was supposed to yell "¡Bajan!" and get out. As we drove, there were more and more houses on the right side of the road and more and more hotels on the left side, where the beach was. Finally the houses were stuck together, and the hotels were almost stuck together. The hotels looked like motels to me, and there was more than one pink one. Finally I saw El Flamenco and stood up to yell but I couldn't do it. I sat back down and pretended like, Oh man, I almost got off at the wrong stop again. Five hotels and ten houses later, the teenager in the backseat yelled, "¡Bajan!" and I got off with him. I pulled out the handle of my suitcase and started walking back toward the motel.

My mom was standing outside, under a string of lights.

"Lala!" she said and ran toward me. She was wearing woven shorts and a white tank top and she looked really good. Her boobs were huge and her arms were toned and she was so brown.

She gave me a million kisses all over my face and my hands. She touched my hair, which had always been long but now was short. She started to cry.

"Hi Mama," I said.

"Hi baby," she said. "I knew that was your bus. You're so beautiful." She took my free hand and I wheeled my suitcase into the courtyard. There was a pool in the middle with strings of lights around it, and the doors to the rooms were around the courtyard in an L shape. The office was separate from the L, between the pool and the street.

Excerpted from Barbara the Slut and Other People by Richard Holmes. Copyright © 2015 by Richard Holmes. Excerpted by permission of Riverhead Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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