Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate tells the suspenseful love story of Tita and Pedro. The younger of two sisters, Tita must stay by her mother’s side until the day she dies. This means no falling in love or getting married. Due to this awful family tradition, Tita does whatever she can to be with Pedro. Unexpected events lead Tita through 22 years of joy, heartache, hatred and love. The writing is truly imaginative and pretty wild.
The imaginative style can be seen from the beginning, with the story of Tita’s birth: “The way Nacha told it, Tita was literally washed into this world on a great tide of tears that spilled over the edge of the table and flooded across the kitchen floor.” Although it sounds as if this is an exaggerated family tale, events like this actually happen. You immediately get drawn in, intrigued by such exaggeration, and want to read the rest of this amazing book.
Although there are many events that seem unreal, there is one in particular, a pretty big turning point, that must be mentioned. Tita had just cooked a meal that included rose petals from roses Pedro gave her. A little of Tita’s blood had been soaked up by the roses when she pricked herself, which causes quite a stir when her eldest sister, Gertrudis, eats the meal. She suddenly feels all of Tita’s lust, and runs to take a cold shower.
This style works best at the very end. Love is the key word in the final chapter. Tita and Pedro can finally be together, and are free of having to hide their love. It starts out very sad because while together, they see a “luminous tunnel.” Not wanting to die, Tita doesn’t enter this tunnel, only to find Pedro has. In an effort to see that tunnel once more (so she can be with Pedro), Tita tries to reignite the flame inside her.
She begins to eat candles one by one. As she chews each, she presses her eyes shut and tries to reproduce their most moving memories: the first time she saw him, the first time their hands touched, the first bouquet of roses, the first kiss, the first caress. When the candle she chews makes contact with the torrid images she evokes, the candle begins to burn. Little by little her vision begins to brighten until the tunnel again appears. It’s sad, yet so happy, and this magnificent ending is made memorable by the way it’s told. It reminds you of the twisted tale of Romeo and Juliet, but even Shakespeare can’t top Ms. Esquivel’s powerful ending.
Sure, everyone likes a good realistic book where they can relate to the characters, but Like Water for Chocolate lets you relate, while at the same time allowing your imagination to run wild. It’s a drama-filled fairy tale that you’ll want to read over and over.