By Vanessa Juarez
Updated May 09, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

These 10 interconnected stories, all set in a Mexican-American community in California, tackle a laundry list of issues that Latinos typically don’t care to hang out to dry: abandonment, adultery, and isolation, among them. Munoz’ warm, keenly observed splashes of Latino culture — manzanilla tea and abondigas (meatball soup) — transport you to any Tia’s casa, as do gems like these: ”I wondered where Lupe ran into such men in the Valley, like they had stepped right out of the advertisements for tejano music, come to life just for her.” Too often, though, Munoz withholds key details about his characters and plots to build suspense. He doesn’t believe in his stories as much as we do. B-

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