ChicaNerds in Chicana Young Adult Literature analyzes novels by the acclaimed Chicana YA writers Jo Ann Yolanda Hernández, Isabel Quintero, Ashley Hope Pérez, Erika Sánchez, Guadalupe García McCall, and Patricia Santana. Combining the term "Chicana" with "nerd," Dr. Herrera coins the term "ChicaNerd" to argue how the young women protagonists in these novels voice astute observations of their identities as nonwhite teenagers, specifically through a lens of nerdiness—a reclamation of brown girl self-love for being a nerd. In analyzing these ChicaNerds, the volume examines the reclamation and powerful acceptance of one’s nerdy Chicana self. While popular culture and mainstream media have shaped the well-known figure of the nerd as synonymous with white maleness, Chicana YA literature subverts the nerd stereotype through its negation of this identity as always white and male. These ChicaNerds unite their burgeoning sociopolitical consciousness as young nonwhite girls with their "nerdy" traits of bookishness, math and literary intelligence, poetic talents, and love of learning. Combining the sociopolitical consciousness of Chicanisma with one aligned to the well-known image of the "nerd," ChicaNerds learn to navigate the many complicated layers of coming to an empowered declaration of themselves as smart Chicanas.
Table of Contents
Introduction: ChicaNerds in Chicana Young Adult Literature: Brown and Nerdy
Chapter One: Not Your Nerd or "At-Risk" Chicana Student: On ChicaNerds and Stereotypes
Chapter Two: "Those White Girls Don’t Like It": Community and ChicaNerd Feminist Resistance in Jo Ann Yolanda Hernández’s White Bread Competition
Chapter Three: "The College Girl from the Barrio": Calculus and ChicaNerdiness in What Can(t) Wait
Chapter Four: Theater and Chicana Poetic Development in Guadalupe García McCall’s Under the Mesquite
Chapter Five: Band Shirts and Rebellion: Resisting the "Buena Hija" Trope through Nerdiness in I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Chapter Six: "Tis the Life of a Misunderstood Teenage Poet": ChicaNerd Poetics in Gabi, A Girl in Pieces
Chapter Seven: To Be or Not to Be: Shakespeare, College, and Chicana Feminist Consciousness in Ghosts of El Grullo
Conclusion: Reflections from a (grownup) ChicaNerd: Or, Why I Wrote This Book
Cristina Herrera holds a PhD in English from Claremont Graduate University and is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Chicano and Latin American Studies at California State University, Fresno. She is the author of Contemporary Chicana Literature: (Re)Writing the Maternal Script. Cristina has also coedited multiple anthologies, including Nerds, Goths, Geeks, and Freaks: Outsiders in Chicanx/Latinx Young Adult Literature (with Trevor Boffone and Voices of Resistance: Essays on [email protected] Children’s Literature (coeditor with Laura Alamillo and Larissa M. Mercado-López). Journal publications include "Seeking Refuge Under the Mesquite: Nature Imagery in Guadalupe García McCall’s Verse Novel" (Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, Summer 2019), "Soy Brown y Nerdy: The ChicaNerd in Chicana Young Adult (YA) Literature" (The Lion and the Unicorn: A Critical Journal of Children’s Literature, Fall 2017), and "Cinco Hermanitas: Myth and Sisterhood in Guadalupe García McCall’s Summer of the Mariposas" (Children’s Literature, 2016), among others.