BY ANY OTHER NAME is a story about a Latina woman going home to her high school reunion with a big secret:
Up-and-coming mommyblogger and single mom Marisol Herrera Slade returns to her old hometown in western Pennsylvania for her 20th high school reunion, reluctant and yet compelled to see her high school sweetheart, Russell Asher, who dumped her for the homecoming queen.
Russell’s marriage to the golden girl, however, ended in a nasty divorce, and he has been systematically excluded from his sons’ lives. In his Internet wanderings, he’s found feminist blogger Jerrika Jones, who glorifies single motherhood, essentially putting a stamp of approval on what’s happened to him.
He’s vowed to take this woman down if they ever should meet.
What he doesn’t know, when he thinks to rekindle what he had with Marisol, is that Marisol and Jerrika are one and the same. When he discovers the truth, will his drive for revenge derail any chance they have to reunite? Or will they find they have more in common than they ever expected?
Marisol sipped the tea, the bite of spice and sweet tang of citrus refreshing her, if not sparking her tongue to chat. Analisa, always the talkative one, hardly let Marisol get a word in, and that was just fine with her. Her forte was the written word; even back home, she remained shy and soft-spoken.
What she needed was a little Jerrika Jones in her face-to-face presentations.
The thought reminded her of her resolve to reveal herself this weekend as the popular blogger. Analisa was asking her where she worked. Time to try out the truth.
The words tripped over her lips, though, when she went to speak. “I…Well, you know, bloggers. I mean… Do you use the Internet?” She flushed red. “Stupid question. Of course you use the Internet. Who doesn’t?”
Analisa stared at her blankly.
“Mira, I’ll show you.”
Marisol pulled her netbook out of her purse and set it on the table. “Do you have wireless?” she asked.
Analisa cracked up. “Wait, wait, wait. Little Marisol Herrera who sewed her own finger on the machine in Mrs. Martin’s home ec class? The girl who couldn’t figure out which end of a plug to put in the wall? You’re a computer whiz?”
Marisol rolled her eyes. “Please, querida. Just hook me up and I’ll show you.”
A few minutes later, she was surfing online, and she pulled up Jerrika’s bold page, Mothering Without a Man splashed in strong white letters across a dark red banner at the top of the screen. In the corner above the sidebar, posed the cartoonish drawing of Jerrika, a tall, thin, sharply-dressed woman with features reflecting Marisol’s own mixed heritage, posted in the column’s sidebar. A friend of hers had drawn the toon, making the image chic and sassy. Definitely all Jerrika Jones.
She turned the small computer screen to Analisa.
Her friend’s eyes narrowed as she scanned the page. “Oh, yeah. I’ve heard about her. She was on the radio with Katy Blaine last summer. We were all listening on the floor, in the nurses’ lounge. She was funny as heck, that Jerrika. Giving men in general what-for, ragging on deadbeat dads. She…”
Analisa trailed off as Marisol looked her steadily in the eye.
“She…Dios mio. Mari. Are you telling me you’re…her?”
Marisol grinned at her friend’s trembling finger, pointed at the screen, and confessed, “I’m her.”
Analisa’s gasp seemed to go on until Marisol wondered if she would ever breathe again.
“That’s where you work? You make money? Do they really pay you to write the column, Mari? Are you going to be rich and famous?”
Gratified at the hint of envy in her friend’s eyes, Marisol laughed. “I don’t know about rich and famous, Ana, but so far the ads pay the bills. That’s all I need, for now.” She winked. “After Mark goes off to school? Who knows?”