The Five Acts of Diego León

Random. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781400065400. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780812984637. F
Covering the period 1917–36, this latest from the author of Still Water Saints is divided into five "acts" that each mirrors a decisive act taken by its hero, Diego León. In Act I, the orphaned Diego secures a better life when he moves in with his well-to-do grandparents in Morelia, Mexico. In Act II, he escapes an arranged marriage and aims to make it in Hollywood. Act III sees Diego getting his first break, but only by betraying a friend. In Act IV, he becomes a famous star by relying on the influence of a gay studio mogul. And in Act V, he's fired from the studio, a has-been. The narrative is evidently based on a true story, as Espinoza researched the contribution of Hispanic actors to Hollywood in the 1930s.
VERDICT Though the rags-to-riches-to-rags plot is somewhat clichéd, the dialog is crisp, the characters are well delineated, the story moves quickly, and the re-creation of Hollywood's golden era is vivid. Most readers will enjoy.

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