Perhaps if I had read this as a credulous teenager I would have enjoyed it more, but too much seemed invented to fit the picture presented and although there are some well-written scenes, too much dissolves in pointless dialogue and melodrama
The setting is an off-shore California prison island and the characters are a Mexican-origin family, whose mother is seduced by dreams of her daughter making it big in movies. The most effective scenes are played out from the point of view of the family's grandmother, who came with her father to Los Angeles from their native Mexico. Maria hit Hollywood in the 1950s, only to end up working in Pantheon Pictures brothel-house, then later becoming a seamstress, but she did get to spend the night with a famous star renowned for his inability to learn English well-enough to cash in when the Talkies took over (could have been John Garfield maybe, whose squeaky voice didn't chime with his manly good looks?).
Maria's daughter, Clara, sets her sights on Larry, a basket-ball hero, but his fame is short-lived and very soon he is working as a prison guard. However, Clara is determined that her daughter Rita-Mae will make it in pictures. Just how this is going to happen seems a pipe-dream from the beginning.
There is a nasty sub-plot concerning a sexual attack on Rita-Mae, but on the whole this is a book centred on the futile dreams of women who long to transcend their humble origins and become stars. I wonder if it was really meant to be such a dispiriting story of ego overcoming common-sense?