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Posted April 16, 2008
Not being from Latin American culture, I found this book to be very enlightening about what life is like for people living in Latin America, and how difficult it is to adjust to U.S. culture. The book details the life of the author, Ernesto Galarza and his family, as they go through various stages of their life. The story begins in the small mountain village of Jalcocotán, Mexico where Ernesto, his mother, his father, and his aunt Ester and uncle Gustavo lead a fairly simple life. Ernesto yearns to work in the fields like his father and brother. This continues until Revolutionaries invade the town. Ernesto and his family flee to the nearby city of Tepic. After that, his father finds work in another city, Mazatlán. In Mazatlán, Ernesto joins a gang and makes a great deal of friends. One of the most memorable parts of this section of the book is when Ernesto's first grade class has a mock Battle of Puebla to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Not long after this, revolutionaries invade the city. Ernesto and his family leave the city soon after to escape the turmoil of the revolution. They then head for Sacramento, California to have a new life and live out the American dream. At first, Ernesto finds the American people loud and obnoxious, but learns to like them as he grows more accustomed to the culture. An example of this is on page 205 when Ernesto is describing the typical American. 'In more personal ways we had to get used to the Americans. They did not listen if you did not speak loudly, as they always did. In the Mexican style, people would know that you were enjoying their jokes tremendously if you merely smiled and shook a little, as if you were trying to swallow your mirth. In the American style there was little difference between a laugh and a roar, and until you got used to them you could hardly tell whether the boisterous Americans were roaring mad or roaring happy'. Ernesto takes up various jobs to help support his family, such as being a bell hop at the apartment that his family lived at. Also, at school, Ernesto shows a great affinity for speaking. Ernesto knows this and uses this to be a translator. In the final section of the book, Ernesto and his family get very sick and his uncle, Gustavo dies. After he gets better, he is determined to do the best he can in life by doing the thing that he does best, speaking. This book is boring at some parts, but those parts are few and far between. This book portrays a very vivid and detailed picture of Ernesto's life. Galarza has written a very good book that I would certainly recommend to anyone wanting to learn more about Latin American history and culture.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 20, 2002
I read this book and was glad to see that there are latinos out there who tell it how it is and tell other cultures what being mexican is really like or was. I am proud to recognize this authors use of words and his way of telling his readers how hard it is for latinos to get the respect they need, after not knowing everything they did to reach the U.S. I was touched by this book and am proud of the author.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 27, 2009
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