Just so you know, Lola narrates the Preface. Just go with it.
After fourteen months in Santo Domingo, La Inca tells Lola that it's time for her to go home.
Lola is not happy.
She quits the track team, stops going to class, and breaks up with her sweetheart boyfriend Max.
She starts having sex with her friend's father. Not the best idea, Lola. Come on.
He's a politician and a peledeísta (a member of the Democratic Liberation Party).
This politican guy is really into Lola. But he's not so into her demand, after they have sex, for $2,000. But he gives it to her, and then he and Lola have sex nine more times. So Lola figures he got a square deal anyway.
Then La Inca gets everything ready for Lola's trip home. Lola doesn't talk to her at all.
Lola puts the $2,000 under her bed and daydreams about running away to Japan or Goa or anywhere, really.
Then Lola's mom shows up.
As Lola says, "She never did anything quiet, my mother" (2.preface.1.26). We agree. Beli shows up in a flashy black town car instead of a regular taxi. Plus...
Though Lola is in amazing shape, her mother says this to her: "Coño, pero tú sí eres fea [Damn, you're ugly]" (2.preface.1.31).
Lola tells herself that she'll run away once they get to the States. But something happens. More on this in a sec.
Lola gives us as succinct a summary of what this novel is about: "But if these years have taught me anything it is this: you can never run away. Not ever. The only way out is in. And that's what I guess these stories are about" (2.preface.1.34-35). There you have it, Shmoopsters. The whole book in four sentences.
Anway, what happens to screw up Lola's escape plan? Her ex-boyfriend Max gets hit while riding his motorbike.
Max is Lola's sweetheart boyfriend from Santo Domingo. He zips around on his motorbike delivering film reels.
And one day, he gets crushed between two buses.
So, sweetie pea Lola gives the $2,000 to Max's mom. It does some good: Max's brother opens up a shop in Puerto Rico.
Then we cut back to the main narrative.
Lola and her mom are on the plane for New York. Lola starts bawling.
Beli puts her hand on Lola. It's a surprising act of tenderness from this tough-as-nails mother.
The woman in front of them tells Beli to keep her daughter quiet.
In return, Beli snaps at her. We're with you on this one, Beli; let the poor girl cry in peace.
The chapter ends with this tidbit of wisdom from a random dude on the plane.
He says to Lola: "It's OK, muchacha [girl].... Santo Domingo will always be there. It was there in the beginning and it will be there in the end" (2.preface.1.48). We couldn't have said it better ourselves.