Waking Up in the Land of Glitter: A Crafty Chica Novel
Waking Up in the Land of Glitter is Kathy Cano-Murillo's first foray into the world of novel writing. The author, known to her crafting disciples as "Crafty Chica," already has a well-established fan base because of her popular crafting books, web series, nationally syndicated newspaper column, instructional craft cruise to Mexico, and product line.
A few pages into the book, I could have sworn it was written by the same author as Houston, We Have a Problema. I quickly detected the same seemingly recycled character types: the young fiery Latina with no sense of direction, and her suave Latino love interest, always so cunning and elusive. Admittedly, I’ve grown sick of these caricatures, but I’m happy to report that Waking Up in the Land of Glitter scores much higher marks than its doppelganger.
Murillo’s first novel tells the story of Estrella (Star) Esteban, the wacky, spoiled daughter of two of Phoenix’s most prominent proponents of the local art scene. Star's parents own La Pachanga, a restaurant/community center/art space that also happens to be where Star works, doing what can only be described as a half-assed public relations job.
Crafty Chloe, the villain for the first two-thirds of the book, first comes into Star’s life when she interviews her after someone defaces a popular mural at La Pachanga, which happened to be created by local artist and Star’s sort-of-boyfriend, Theo Duarte. What Chloe doesn’t know is that Star did the defacing herself after one too many tequila shots.
What ensues is not original, groundbreaking, or thought provoking—it’s simply cute. After Theo and Star's parents find out she’s the one that ruined the mural, Theo breaks up with her (though they were never really together; "it’s complicated"), and her parents fire her, making her sign a contract saying that if she doesn’t get her life together she’ll have to move out of their home and stop working at their restaurant.
It is during this time we get into the cheesy coming-of-age tale, in which Star bands together with her best friend Ofie, an obsessive crafter with no crafting talent, Chloe, and a young gay teenager named Benecio to create centerpieces for what’s called the Crafting Olympics. It is also around this time that Star becomes an artist after talking about it for years, despite never picking up so much as a pen.
Despite clichés, bad dialogue, and not-so-intriguing characters, I was pretty hooked on this book and read it in just a few days. I suppose I’m a sucker for stories revolving around charmed lives—you know the type: it always works out for them in the end. And for Star, it all works out: She has an art show at her parent’s restaurant and sells every piece within hours, Theo proposes in a ridiculously elaborate way on her birthday, and she has enough money to buy a property on the same lot as La Pachanga so she can open her own crafting studio.
As I get older, I realize that not every book I spend time reading has to be an earth shattering, groundbreaking, eye-opening event. What you get with Waking Up in the Land of Glitter is a cute though trite little tale that will leave you wishing real life worked out as seamlessly as it does in books.