Acclaimed by critics, it has been translated into various languages and has been taught in schools across the United States and Canada. The book received highly positive reception upon release and has been re-issued in a 25th Anniversary Edition. The novel has especially earned high praise from the Latino/Latina community. Oscar Hijuelos, the first Hispanic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, said that the novel has "conveyed the Southwestern Latino experience with verve, charm, and passion."
The book won her the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation (1985).
The novel is also renowned for its humor, despite dealing with serious and mature subjects.