Down to the Bone

What if you don’t follow the rules and it radically alters the course of your life?
What if you get kicked out of the house and lose all your friends and everyone you love?
Will you turn the corner into a world filled with unusual friends and create a new kind of family or self-destruct?

NOOK Book (eBook)

If you don’t follow the rules, where will it lead you?
Today, the morning rose like a loaf of sweet banana bread. I left the house ready to start living life juicy bite by juicy bite.
I was certain that soon Marlena would be in my arms. After a few hours of fun, we’d transform into all the colors of the spectrum until that kaleidoscopic nanosecond where we’d turn luminous, phosphorescent and fly…
But instead, I got myself into a hellish nightmare.


  • Shai
  • London
  • Soli
  • Fart Face
  • Tazer
  • Marlena
  • Miss Superior Sicko
  • Mami
  • Neruda
  • Viva
  • ^^^
    America’s Award Commended TitleAmerica’s Award
    “… laugh-out-loud irreverent…”-STARRED ALA Booklist Review
    ” … encompasses humor and love for Cuban culture… A passionate girl loses her first love but finds community and self in this flashy debut with…lots of heart.”–Kirkus Reviews
    “… honest, intense…”–Publisher’s Weekly
    “… Dole’s infusion of lively, spicy Cuban-American culture set against a hot Miami setting makes it rise above many other titles in the genre.–School Library Journal
    ALA Booklist Top Ten First Novels for Youth–Booklist Top Ten
    Nominated for ALA Best Books for YA’sDown To The Bone, Mayra Lazara Dole
    “… Laura’s unique, spunky attitude fleshes out the more dramatic bits and keeps the pages turning. Readers will relish the teen’s descriptions of the food, fury, and passion that make up her lifeHillias J. Martin, Librarian, New York Public Library
    “… Laura takes us through a world of young gay Miami cultureOut Smart Magazine
    “… Laura is a character to root for: sassy and sarcastic, insightful but naïve, loving but defensive. She’s an authentic teenager down to her Miami slang and effusive enthusiasm…” Bay Windows – New England’s largest GLBT newspaper & EDGE Magaine, Biran Jewell
    “.. .Dole addresses issues of class and culture in this great title“–CCBC-Net Digest, Vol 34, Issue 17
    “… full of vitality and gusto. It’s a fiery, vivid, very queer novel, brimming with love of myriad kinds, from sexual love to the kind of love that lets you build a family of choice when your family of origin doesn’t work out…” PW children’s book critic
    “… a Miami so alive that it almost becomes character in her book…”–Harper Collins Executive Editor
    “… Dole captivatingly colors Laura and her entourage with a rainbow of multicultural dialects, bits of Spanish, and slangNew York Public Library .
    “… all sorts of interesting cultural discussion of what it means to be gay in the Miami/Cuban society plus some heartfelt angst on the part of a good kid who is having a really rough time…”–Colleen Mondor: Chasing Ray
    “… hilarious! … breezy style… wry dialog…”–KT Horning, CCBC

    “… I insist that my kids read in Spanish if the work was written in Spanish. But Dole’s work turns this on its head. When she writes in English you can still read it in Spanish.”Prof. Frank Gerace Laruffa, adjunto a la Facultad de Destrezas de la Comunicación, La Guardia Community College/CUNY, New York.
    “… bold and energy-packed…”–Alex Sanchez, author of The God Box
    “… colorful and energetic…”–Brent Hartinger, Split Screen

    “… The dialogue is fast and funny in this debut novel, which is set in Miami’s Cuban American community…”– Hazel Rochman
    “… joyous, hilarious, fun and stretches you emotionally. — SLJ
    Down to the Bones is a complex, complicated and stirring tale. Dole has a way with metaphors and comparisons that bring life and richness to her writing. The depictions of her characters create instantaneous emotional connections.
    Lambda Literary

    CLICK HERE for: MayraLazaraDole’sBLOG

87 comments on “Down to the Bone

  1. You’re definately not alone… Knowing that it’s helping you, means the world to me. A lot of women never deal with the struggles. You’re courageous. I’m curious. How did you hear about my book? What made you want to read it?

    Here’s a longer version of the recipe that appears in Down to the Bone. (I cook them from scratch and add fresh tomatoes but it takes forever, so it’s good that ur using canned beans.)

    2 cans garbanzo beans with liquid
    small, chopped chorizo (if you’re veggie, skip)
    2 large, sliced onions
    1 green or red bell pepper
    4 crushed garlic cloves
    1/4 teaspoon oregano
    1/4 teaspoon cumin
    1 bay leaf
    6 oz can tomato paste
    Extra virgin olive oil for sautéing
    2 chopped carrots
    2 cubed potatoes (small cubes)
    5 chopped red pimento stuffed green olives
    1 teaspoon liquid green olives are packed in (for tangy, salty taste)
    1/4 cup raisins
    Salt to taste
    1 chopped tomato
    Juice of 1/2 lemon
    Parsley and red pepper garnish

    Sauté onions, chorizo, and green peppers in olive oil till onions are soft/caramelized on medium low heat.

    Add crushed garlic and stir a second or two only (do not burn or overcook garlic!).

    Add potatoes and carrots. Stir a few minutes.

    Add salt, cumin, and oregano. Stir.

    Add 2 cans garbanzo beans (liquid included) and can of tomato paste. Stir.

    Add rest of ingredients. Stir well, taste, and add more salt if needed.

    Turn heat to high. The instant you see a boil, immediately turn to Low.

    Cover pot with a tight lid. Simmer 20 minutes on low in order to marry flavors while rice cooks.

    Uncover. Simmer till veggies are cooked and salsita thickens.

    Immediately before serving, add chopped tomato and squeeze half a lemon over meal. Stir well. Garnish with parsley and strips of red bell pepper.

    Serve as a side dish or over a bed of steamy rice. Enjoy!

  2. I thank you for the recipe and so does my tummy.

    I found your book because it’s just recently I’ve come to see who I really am and I decided to see what types of books my library had and I did a search for lesbian/gay books and found yours that way. I went to amazon and read reviews and one review made me request it from the library. The review said “Laura struggles throughout the book to come to terms with who she is. She has dated boys in the past, but only Marlena has sent sparks through her body. Is she gay? Is she bi-sexual? Was it only Marlena that caused these feelings? ” It made me feel like it might be me that was being talked about. I’ve dated men and only 1 woman and she was the only 1 who made me feel that way. Even though I am older than Laura and my situation is a bit different the book made me see myself a bit differently by the time I finished it and I will be adding it to my own library after reading it for myself.

  3. Hola
    I read your book and LOVE IT!! Thank you for such a humorous view of life. We alI need to laugh more often. I relate to some of Laura’s story, I am from Puerto Rico. Realizing my feelings, accepting them and letting others know was not ease but it made me a better person. I am happy about that. I will keep an eye on your writing and I will toast with a “Cuba Libre” for your success in life.

  4. Hi Mayra, I was browsing the net for “frichuelos recipes” and I ran into your web site, I was born in Marianao too, Avenida 41 entre 52 y 54 cerca a la Cerveseria Tropical, I can go into googles earth an see our home. Someone has taken a picture of it and posted it on the site. I left Cuba in 1965, I am sorry I have not had the chance to obtain one of your books yet but I will soon. You sound like a very nice person.

  5. I loved this book. I can’t praise you enough for taking the risk in writing this book and getting a great reward.

    I have to let you know that your book has really changed my life. I’m a questioning Lesbian and really don’t know how I’ll be recieved from my family and friends. I’m quite sure that I’ll loose some people that are close to me.

    I love that you can write about what you know. It’s really cool. I’m an aspiring author and would love to be able to write such a gripping book. I read the whole book in two days and was hardly able to set it down the whole time.

    thanks again,

  6. Cecilee,

    I can’t tell you how much I LOVE and appreciate your comment about my book changing your life. Comments like yours give me hope as an author to continue writing what I love. I hope so much that your family and friends won’t shun you if you come out. I’m sorry to hear that you’re sure you’ll loose people close to you. I think what’s important to remember is to consider not coming out until you’re emotionally ready and you have a strong support system, like Laura does. I wish you lots of luck and take good care.

    Thanks Cecillee! Fans of my book like you make all the difference in my life! : )


  7. Mayra,

    First I want to say that I loved your book. I think it was a truly fantastic story and I applaud you for writing such a powerful and gripping book, especially being your first.
    I am a junior English education major and I chose to write a rationale for your novel so that your story can find its way into classrooms without being censored. Sadly, we live in a world with a great deal of intolerance and it is my hope that your book not only can help LGBTQ students but also heterosexual students to be more understanding. I personally have no connection to LGBTQ community but I have read a fair about of gay/lesbian literature and I can honestly say that your book and other novels like yours have really opened my eyes and changed the way I feel about the LGBTQ community. For that, I want to thank you.


  8. Liz, what an honor it is to receive your email. If possible, I’d love it if you’d get back to me and share with me the the rationale your wrote for my novel. I’m proud that my book and others have opened your eyes to the LGBT community and that you’ve changed the way you feel about us. I thank “you” for being so open-minded and intelligent. I wish more people were like you! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Mayra

  9. Hi Mayra,

    I just finished reading Down to the Bone last night. It was impossible for me to put it down! What a great story! Laura’s mother reminded me so much of my own in the way she reacted (luckily I was not a minor when I came out to my family so I didn’t have to worry about where I would live,etc.) It brought back some painful and somewhat recent memories, but in a therapeutic way. It’s a wonderful feeling to read a story and realize you’re not alone.

    Also, my girlfriend is half Cuban so I was thrilled to read a gay book that incorporated the Latina culture. I started off asking her for help with some of the Spanish words and phrases (I only know a little Spanish from high school and what I’ve picked up from my girlfriend in the past 4 years), and then I realized there was a glossary in the back. That was very helpful for me. :)

    Thank you for writing such a necessary book that was fun to read! I see you’re working on a sequel. I can’t wait to read that one as well!


  10. Hey, Dana!

    You’re definately not alone!

    I loved your comment and I’m thrilled you loved Down to the Bone. I hope things are better with your mom and I’m glad my book was therapeutic for you. I bet you can now speak “Cuban” with your girlfriend after my infamous glossary and I hope she also gets to read my novel. How did you find my book?

    Thanks for letting me know your feelings… it means so much to me. : )

    Take good care,

    Ps. Saludos to your half-Cuban girlfriend!

  11. Mayra,

    I wish I had a cooler story to share with you about how I discovered your book, but here it goes.

    I was at the public library for the first time in years. I searched the database for books using the keyword “lesbian” and yours was one of the books that came up.

    I’m always at a loss for how to find good gay/lesbian books. I guess I just got lucky this time!

    My girlfriend is reading it next! :)

    Have a great Monday!


  12. God I love this book. I live in a town where i hear Stupid Fag and Dyke nearly all the time and i get so angry with it. What make me even more pissed off is i’m gay and im too scared to tell my parents. I have NEVER had a crush on a boy. Never. I always had crushes on girls and got caught kissing one when i was young. My school library has no books on gays or lesbians. This book really touched me and i wish there were more books like these. I hope your sequal comes out soon and thank you soooo much for writing such an awesome book.

  13. I love your comment, Meg! I hear you. It’s terrifying to come out to parents if they won’t understand and might cause you heartache. Consider only telling them after you’ve got tons of support and maybe at family therapy? Rejection from parents is really harsh and difficult to bear. If you ever do come out, I want to wish you the best of luck! It’s too bad your school library doesn’t carry LGBT books. I thought every school library did except for Christian or very religious schools. How did you find my book? Was it word of mouth? I’m curious. Your comment is AWESOME and it’s fired me up to finish my next novel! Take good care.

  14. Your book was amazing. The beginging about the school responding like they did hit home and brought tears to my eyes. I attened a all girls catholic school, i almoat got kicked out for the same reason about a month ago. i cried and begged and told them it was all a lie… i hated denying who i was but i dont want to loose my place at a school i feel i belong at. And the situation with marlena hit home as well my last gf recently left me for a guy as well. its amazing how much a book can make you feel.. it was amzing finding it in our school library its being passed through all the gay kids right now i was the first to find it. Thank you so much for giving us something to identify with.

  15. I’m so glad you identified with the story in Down to the Bone. I’m sorry about what happened at your school. It’s incredible your school library carries my book after what they put you through.

    I’m thrilled the gay kids at your school are reading my book. It would be great to hear from them once they’ve read it. : )

    Thank you so much for writing me, Kaye. It means a lot. I hope everything goes well at school and in your life. Take good care!

  16. Hi, i am a class mate of Kaye’s and i just finsished your book. I agree with everything Kaye said. Our school went after her like crazy, she cried in the office and begged us to stand up for her. My self and other gays stood strong and told admin they were wrong about her. I felt like her book is opening doors for the girls at our school… we are proud to be gay and proud as hell to be hispanic. We dont want to hide it but for our families we must. Just like Laura in the book. This book has changed us one by one and our school will learn the truth about over half its students….. we will not be ashamed thank you for writing such an insipring novel.

  17. i havent read this book yet but ive gone to amzon…and read some pieces of your work and its amazing..i am going through a rough time right now since a yr ago i came out to my parents… i have a gf ..its been a yr now.. 02/16/08 was the day that life started for me. im really happy! i can honestly say that but my parents dont understand and they dont want me to talk to her they say that im confused ..when i know thats not..true..but your book is amazing so far…
    and thx for publishing a book talking about lesbian struggles
    much love,

  18. Dear Mayra, I want to thank you so much for this book. I am much older than the characters and have just realized in the last 3 years who I really am. I am in deep struggle and needed to read something that would make me feel ” normal “. I was at my library and typed in lesbian and your book came up. They had it and I read it in one afternoon at the beach ( I have the sunburn to prove it! ) I could not put it down. I was raised in Miami and while I am not Cuban I definitely related to the cultural and food references ( yum! ) I plan to make the garbanzo dish tonight in fact since I am a vegetarian. I looked at your myspace and if that is your picture, you and your love are GORGEOUS! I am glad to know Miami has some lovely and talented ladies. Thank you again Mayra for a great book and I look forward to the sequel.

  19. Hey Jamie, I can’t tell you how much i LOVE your comment. I’m sorry about your “deep struggle.” That pic is of a family member and her partner (I’m next to them). Myspace doesn’t show their names and I can’t seem to delete it. Crazy! If you check out comment number eleven (up above) you’ll find an extended and more detailed recipe of the garbanzo dish in Down to the Bone. Hope you enjoy it! Thanks so much for letting me know you loved my book. If you’re ever on GoodReads, please rate it! : )
    Ps. I hope the sunburn’s turned into a tan!

  20. Dear Mayra,

    Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I am surrounded by family and friends that could never understand what it is to be me. Which is part of the reason I loved ” Down to the Bone” so much. The closest person to Laura would not even TRY to understand. I am glad in the end she made a new family. I will definitely give thumbs up all around on Good Reads.

    I was planning on just winging the recipe from what you wrote on page 157 but I was so excited to look this website up this afternoon and find specific details in the comments. I will be cooking as soon as finish writing this!

    It was just yesterday that I read the book. It was a beautiful blue skied day here in Vero Beach and I used sunscreen. Oh well, it will be tan soon :) Thank you again, Jamie

  21. I just wanted to write a quick note to let you know that your book has touched the lives of people beyond the young adult genre. My girlfriend and I both just finished reading your amazing book! We’re slightly older than the target group, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with your characters and your writing style. As the girlfriend of a Latina-American who lives in Miami, I found it especially fun to read all of the cultural and geographical references. We’re going through similar struggles as Laura did in the book, and even though we’re beyond needing to live at home, that familial acceptance is a universal theme. Please keep writing. Can’t wait to read your next book!

  22. Emily, thanks SO much for writing. your comment means the world to me! it’s people like you that inspire me to keep writing. i’m thrilled that you enjoyed reading Miami’s cultural and geographical references, but saddened that you’re struggling with your families. I hope things change for the better soon.

    thanks again, Emily.

    much warmth to you and your girlfriend.

  23. Hi,
    I just wanted to say…
    Your book really made me feel better about myself as a lesbian.

    I am a Junior in High school and saw your book at the local library. I picked it up and immediatedly felt a sense of couriosoty. This is the first book I have read that disscuses homosexuality and I am glad I read it.

    It makes me kind of want to move to Maiami Florida because around my small town, it is hard to find anyone who is not straight. But this book helped me get through some of my inner emotions and thoughts about being who I really am. I just hope I can find someone out there like Tazer or Laura.

    Thank you for your remarkable gift to the young adults out there who as confused as I was! I cannot wait until your new book.

  24. This is one of the most intense books I have EVER READ in my life! I’ve never cried so much reading a book as much as I did with ” Done to the Bone ” this book moved me in so many ways. AND ALSO I KNOW FOR A FACT NO MATTER WHAT, I WOULD ALWAYS LOVE AND BE THERE FOR MY CHILD. I COULD NEVER LIVE WITH THE FACT THAT MY DAUGHTER IS OUT THERE WITH NO IDEA WHAT TO DO ON HER OWN. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WHAT DO SUCH A THING?!? I LOVE MY LITTLE ONE WAY TO MUCH. Down to the Bone is beauitfully written.

  25. Mayra, I agreed to sponsor a gay-straight alliance–1993. So the group is called Tolerance, after Southern Poverty’s teaching tolerance idea. Got your book today from Powell’s in OR. Will start tonight. The Tolerance kids have a collection of their writings called Speaking Out, and I would like to send it to you. I think it is so important for them to tell their stories.

  26. Dear Mayra, I absolutely loved Down to the Bone. I started reading it when I was still closeted and feeling guilty about being lesbian, and when I finished reading it, I felt so much better about myself. It taught me to accept myself for who I was and it made me stop trying to go straight. This book was so helpful. I read it 3 months ago and since then I have come out to one friend, and my parents, who are both very accepting and will love me no matter what. In fact, ever since I have come out to them, It seems like it has brought my whole family closer together. I can not thank you enough for helping me get through those tough times by using the power of literature. P.S. I loved your idea of incorporating spanish into the book. I am not latina, but I am a lesbian who is learning spanish. You have inspired me to write my own lesbian book. Actually, I’m making an entire series called “The Closet Girls”, of course they won’t be closeted the whole time. I’m am only 14 right now, but I want to try to get the books published as soon as possible. Thank You so much, I don’t know where I would be without “Down to the Bone”. Also, have you been writing anymore books lately? Please reply. Take Care, Kalah

  27. Mayra, thank you so much for writing this excellent book! It has made me feel “normal” again! I have recently come out to my parents and after they read your book, they were totally okay with it. I want to thank you for inspiring me to be myself. I also want to say that you have gotten me involved in writing and i am currently writing a lesbian series. Thank you so much! Take Care, Kalah

  28. I found Down to the Bone after I decided to choose the LGBT genre for my English class Minority American Literature project. Once I started reading it, I was unable to stop. I ended up reading the novel in two days and one of which I was sick with a fever. I just couldn’t put it down. I really didn’t know much about the topic but reading your book made me take a whole new approach. Thank you so much for writing this amazing book!!

  29. I loved this book! After reading this book, I began to cry because I can relate to this book a lot. I just decided that I do indeed have feelings for other girls, n considering the fact that i am a girl, it was hard for me to cope at first. I still haven’t informed my mom, so I thought that it would be interesting if I read a book to help me through it. And so I stumbled upon your book. Although my mom wouldn’t react in that way, I still am very afraid to tell her. This book helped me to accept myself as who I am. whether it be lesbian or bisexual. And I also am trying to forget about labels, because I used to be obsessed with figuring out exactly what I was, but your book has got me to forget about labels and let love lead the way to who I am. Thank you for writing this book!

  30. Hello! My name is
    Autumn from the blog Review Blog
    101!( )

    I was hoping to get an ARC and/or emailinterview with you ,I’d
    really apprieciate it! Thank you, and getbackto me soon! My blog is a
    review blog and we reviewmagazines,movies,tv shows,and books.So it
    would really help if we got ainterview with you for your book or/and
    ARC.We hope this blog get’svery big since its new. From, Autumn

  31. Hello! My name is
    Autumn from the blog Review Blog
    101!( )

    I was hoping to get an ARC and/or emailinterview with you ,I’d
    really apprieciate it! Thank you, and getbackto me soon! My blog is a
    review blog and we reviewmagazines,movies,tv shows,and books.So it
    would really help if we got ainterview with you for your book or/and
    ARC.We hope this blog get’svery big since its new. From, Autumn

  32. i honestly want say thank you. this book helped me alot last year when i was first getting comrfortable with being who i am..even though i had to hide the book from my mom i still read it four times before returning it..and i recently just bought it..and no lie..i’ve read it at least 4 more times..and i’m touched and moved by the story helped give me hope that just because i’m gay that doesn’t mean that i’ll never find love like my mom says..thank you

  33. Hey!

    Yes! I have a new YA novel coming out in 2012 called SPINNING off the EDGE and two shorts stories in anthologies for Scholastic and Running Press. By the end of the month (September) I’ll hear from another publisher about a contract for yet another novel.

    Google me next year to find my new books and writing and keep checking Goodreads.

    Thanks a million for getting in touch and telling me how much you loved my book. ; )

  34. I love the new cover and how it portrays Shai and Marlena (or Shai and Gisela)? This was the best book I read this year. I read it in one sitting and so I updated this comment. I liked the changed paperback a million times better than the original becasue we get to know the main character better and because of what happens with Marlena which wasn’t in first book. Also, I didn’t know anything about Cuban culture and learning about Latina culture was fascinating.

  35. I just finished reading Down to the Bone. I’m not a lesiban, bi or any of that but support them because they are AWESOME. My best friend is a guy who doesn’t see himself as that and I have alot of other friends who are gay. Well this was an amazing book and truly think that everyone should read it. This is the best book I’ve read in a long time. It would be nice if you wrote more books like this. This new cover is fabulous!

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