DR. MEL'S MESSAGE - From my novels to my other projects, no telling what you will read. This is the only place you will get to read about how I developed a screenplay into a novel and what is the driving force. I will talk about many things from films to books to acting to producing. It really will depend on where my mind takes me. I hope you will join me on this journey.
In Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety, Yvonne Castañeda shares vibrant stories of her childhood growing up in Miami as the daughter of humble immigrants from Mexico and Cuba . . . and how she came to develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
To help ease her mami’s nervios, Yvonne becomes a perfectionist from a young age, achieving high grades at school and mastering the piano. But as her Cuban family members openly make comments about her awkward desarrollo, or puberty, Yvonne enters a new phase of self-consciousness that begins her obsession with weight.
She abandons the piano for the high school cheerleading team, and reinvents herself, becoming both skinny and popular. However, as a first-generation adolescent born in the United States, Yvonne wrestles with the conflict between the cultural norms of her Hispanic/Latino heritage and American societal expectations.
Plagued by doubt and low self-esteem, Yvonne begins a vicious cycle of weight gain and loss, as she battles Bulimia Nervosa. Beleaguered by feelings of guilt, shame, and inferiority, she develops anxiety, depression, and a reliance on dangerous coping mechanisms.
Ultimately, sage advice from her dear Abuela in Guadalajara, Mexico, guides Yvonne to a realization that shifts her perspective of herself and the purpose of her life, providing a foundation for inner peace, and la solución to her past struggles.
“There are wounds of the spirit impossible to heal alone. Yvonne Castañeda is a healer healing others by sharing her own story. This book resonated deeply with me, as it will with many who are lost when their DNA contradicts the image of the ideal.”—Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street
“An astonishing memoir, overflowing with compassion, honesty, and hope. Castañeda fearlessly captures how immigration can eat the body and the lifelong healing that such injuries require. One of the bravest debuts I’ve read in years.”—Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
"With deprecating humor and razor-sharp honesty, the clinical psychotherapist recounts her life—from birth to age 45—with the nostalgic feel of an older sister sharing advice. . . . the figures portrayed, like the authors’ parents and brother, are fully realized and are depicted with warmth. Through her reconnection with her Catholic faith, Castañeda reaches her breakthrough, eventually doing social work in the Latinx community. VERDICT More like Victor Martinez’s Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida than Isabel Quintero’s Gabi, a Girl in Pieces . . . this exploration of mental health from the Latinx perspective fills a much-needed gap.”—Shelley M. Diaz, School Library Journal
“Castañeda has written a book for anyone who seeks to understand mental health from within. Her down-to-earth approach and wit made me laugh while at the same time she masterfully guided me through the complexity of eating disorders. A must-read!”—Rocío Calvo, PhD, Founding-Director Latinx Leadership Initiative, Boston College
Born in Los Angeles to Mexican and Cuban parents, Castañeda was raised in Miami, where she eventually earned a BA in International Relations from Florida International University. She has worked in the restaurant, cruise line, education, and hotel industry, and was contracted as a linguist with the Department of Justice. Having suffered from Bulimia Nervosa for over 15 years, Castañeda developed a passion for fitness and later pursued a career in the fitness industry, in which she worked as a Personal Trainer and General Manager for over ten years.
Currently, Castañeda is a Licensed Psychotherapist in Massachusetts (LICSW) and an Adjunct Professor of Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, and an Online Facilitator of BC School of Theology and Ministry. Aside from her own lived experiences, Castañeda has worked extensively with the underserved Hispanic/Latino population as a behavioral health clinician.
Castañeda is an iPEC Certified Life Coach, a Registered Yoga Teacher, a Corrective Exercise Specialist, a Kettlebell Coach, and a 2nd Dan Black Belt in Shotokan Karate.