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Ten-year-old Junior is thrilled and a bit nervous about moving from an El Paso barrio to the house his father has purchased in an Anglo part of town. His mother, who speaks only Spanish, is somewhat less thrilled, especially when she finds out the family will be living in the subterráneo—a dark, unfinished basement—until the white family renting the house above moves out. As the ever-optimistic Pop works to improve his family’s situation by adding an apartment to the back of the house, Junior and his little brother make friends with Tim and Kim, the children living above them. But soon tensions erupt—between Junior’s mother and Tim and Kim’s parents, between Pop and co-workers at his new job, and between Tim and Boogie, Junior’s friend from the barrio—and these conflicts reshape Junior’s relationships with family and friends, and threaten the new world his father is striving to create. "This is truly an extraordinary story by a gifted writer.” —Rudolfo Anaya, author of Serafina’s Stories "A delightful coming-of-age story by a new young adult author.” —Lila Guzmán, author of Lorenzo's Secret Mission "This book feels like a classic to me.” —Naomi Shihab Nye, author of You and Yours "Carlos Flores’s insightful domestic drama is a study on what it means to be an American: love and tragedy aren’t too far apart.” —Ilan Stavans, author of The Hispanic Condition: The Power of a People
Posted December 26, 2006
To a 10-year-old Hispanic boy growing up poor in an El Paso barrio in the 1950s, life can seem idyllic: you come home from school and mom is always there, making tortillas for the evening meal dad is the strongest man you know and everything you could ever want in a best friend lives right next door. You seemingly have everything you need under your family¿s rented roof until the day your parents tell you you¿re moving out of the only place you¿ve known as home for a ¿better¿ life in another part of town. Arriving in the new neighborhood, everything isn¿t really what it seems. Yes, the beautiful house is there with its light brown brick walls, white wooden columns on a porch, and a swing hanging from two chains in the ceiling, but there¿s also an Anglo family living inside! Unbeknownst to everyone, ¿Pop¿ has made a deal to rent out the formal house to an Army family, and have his family live in the subterraneo (basement) while he strives to build an apartment that will one day house the clan¿all in the name of economics. Carlos Nicolas Flores has made this interestingly unique premise the foundation of his debut novel, ¿Our House on Hueco,¿ a coming-of-age young adult fiction tale told through the voice of 10-year-old Junior, who must come to grips with a world he didn¿t know existed outside what he felt were the relatively safe confines of his barrio. Junior quickly learns that the move has not only brought about a new home, but also a new way of looking at family members and friends, and causes him to question a belief system instilled in him by his Puerto Rican father that the United States is the land of opportunity if one is willing to work hard and make sacrifices. Throughout the novel, Flores explores themes of racism, poverty, and the complexities of human nature in a family that is struggling to claim a part of the American dream while seemingly not wanting to let go of parental birth lands, customs and cultures, especially when mom, who hails from Mexico, comes into contact with ¿los gringos.¿ Flores, a co-founding director of the South Texas Writing Project and a winner of the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize, boldly lays bare his perception regarding the nuances of Hispanic patriarchy by making his father figure macho beyond what most non-Hispanics would deem acceptable or even realistic. Then he carefully peels back the layers of Latin male stereotypical behavior to reveal a man who ultimately only wants to do what¿s best for his family. While ¿Our House on Hueco¿ is written for young adults, it tells a quintessential story that transcends generations and racial divides. It is gritty in substance, yet amusing and alluring when it needs to be, and nostalgically familiar to anyone who grew up in the `50s without losing readers who are living their teen-age years in the 21st century. Flores has expertly woven a tale that deserves a wide audience and a prominent place on your bookshelf, reserved for works you¿re proud to say you¿ve read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.