Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida

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Overview

Manny relates his coming of age experiences as a member of a poor Mexican American family in which the alcoholic father only adds to everyone's struggle.

Winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, PARROT IN THE OVEN tells the story of a Mexican American boy's coming-of-age in the face of poverty, abuse, and cultural discrimination.

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Overview

Manny relates his coming of age experiences as a member of a poor Mexican American family in which the alcoholic father only adds to everyone's struggle.

Winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, PARROT IN THE OVEN tells the story of a Mexican American boy's coming-of-age in the face of poverty, abuse, and cultural discrimination.

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Editorial Reviews

The ALAN Review - Jennifer Norris
Filled with enough metaphors to impress any English teacher, Parrot in the Oven: mi vida is a story told by a teenage Mexican American boy, Manny, who is attempting to find his place in a society full of disappointment. Set in the projects, Manny gives a very realistic account of what it is like to grow up as a minority in a poor, dysfunctional home. Receiving no real direction from his family, Manny battles with what type of man he should and will become. He is tempted by gang life (in his attempt to be accepted somewhere), but at the same time, he seems to have a pure heart that prohibits him from falling too far. The coming of age plot is further complicated by Manny's family life. His father is an out of work alcoholic who is incapable of giving guidance to his floundering son. His mother is the peace-keeper, mainly concerned with damage control. His older brother (who has a steady stream of jobs that don't ever seem to work out) seems to be on the same path as his alcoholic father. His teen-age sister deals with sexual issues including the miscarriage of her baby. With themes such as honor, abuse, and alcoholism, this coming of age novel is very readable for upper middle/high school students; however, teachers should be aware of the controversial issues within the novel: drugs, alcohol, language, and the graphic miscarriage. Because of the novel's extremely realistic teenage voice, this novel is reminiscent of S. E. Hinton's Tex or The Outsiders and therefore would definitely gain the interest of the high school reader.
The ALAN Review - Rob Linné
Manny Hernandez endures a lot during the year that leads up to his initiation into a California gang. He learns about hard work out in the sweltering vegetable fields and experiences class stratification at a high school party where he is not welcomed. Manny helps his older sister through a life-threatening miscarriage but almost takes his younger brother's life when he accidentally fires his father's shotgun. The young protagonist narrates all of these events with a future writer's eye for detail and a unique take on human character. Martinez's coming-of-age story reads like true adolescence - absurd and funny from a distance, yet painful when you're stuck in the middle of it all. I already lost one afternoon to this bitter-sweet book and now I've picked it up again. I think many reluctant readers would also have a hard time turning away once Manny started talking straight to them about what growing up is really all about.
Children's Literature - Sherri Byrand
"Miracles don't wait for doubters," says Manny Hernandez, this book's main character and a youth worthy of our attention. This account of his life is a miracle of its own-powerful and poignant, stunning in its simplicity. Although it introduces some very heavy issues, including Manny's sister who miscarries her child at home and his father's alcoholism and abusiveness, its approach makes this book appropriate for even the youngest members of its intended audience. It never slips into the callous tones of a cynical adult; every page resonates with Manny's voice. Given the book's subject matters, it is an excellent resource for classroom discussion on the topics of spousal abuse, gangs, and racism.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060267063
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 7.78 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Victor Martinez was born and raised in Fresno, California, the fourth in a family of twelve children. He attended California State University at Fresno and Stanford University, and has worked as a field laborer, welder, truck driver, firefighter, teacher, and office clerk. His poems, short stories, and essays have appeared in journals and anthologies. Mr. Martinez was awarded the 1996 National Book Award for Young People's Literature for Parrot in the Oven, his first novel. He now makes his home in San Francisco, California.

Steve Scott is the illustrator of Splish Splash by Joan Bransfield Graham and is a children's book designer. He lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Baseball Glove

That summer my brother, Bernardo, or "Nardo," as we call him, flipped through more jobs than a thumb through a deck of cards. First he was a dishwasher, then a busboy, then a parking attendant and, finally, a patty turner for some guy who never seemed to be in his hamburger stand for more than ten minutes at a time. (Mom believed he sold marijuana, or did some other illegal shamelessness.) Nardo lost one job for not showing up regular enough, another for showing up too regular -- the boss hated his guts. The last job lost him when the owner of the hamburger stand packed up unexpectedly and left for Canada...

The job Nardo misses most, though, was when he worked as a busboy for the Bonneville Lakes Golf and Catering Service. He says it was the only time he ever got to touch elbows with rich people. The parties they catered served free daiquiris, whisky drinks and cold beer, really cold, in big barrels choking with ice. At some parties, like the one he got fired from, they passed out tickets for juicy prizes like motorcycles, TV sets, stereos and snow skis. The last party had a six-piece band and a great huge dance floor so the "old fogies," as my brother called them, could get sloshed and make fools of themselves.

As it turns out, he and a white guy named Randy took off their busboy jackets and began daring each other to get a ticket and ask a girl to dance. Randy bet Nardo wouldn't do it, and Nardo bet he would, and after a two-dollar pledge he steered for the ticket lady.

"I could've hashed it around a bit, you know, Manny," he said. "I could've double- and triple-dared the guy a couple of times over,then come up with a good excuse. But that ain't my style."

Instead he tapped Randy's fingers smooth as fur and walked up to the ticket lady. She peered out from behind the large butcher-paper-covered table at the blotches of pasta sauce on his black uniform pants and white shirt -- which were supposed to go clean with the catering service's light-orange busboy jacket, but didn't -- and said, "Ah, what the hell," and tore him out a tag.

Before the little voice nagging inside him could talk louder, Nardo asked the nearest girl for a dance. She had about a million freckles and enough wire in her mouth to run a toy train over. They stumbled around the dance floor until the band mercifully ground to a halt. She looked down at his arm kind of shylike and said, "You dance real nice."

Now my brother had what you could call a sixth sense. "Es muy vivo," as my grandma used to say about a kid born that way, and with Nardo it was pretty much a scary truth. He could duck trouble better than a champion boxer could duck a right cross. He made hairline escapes from baths, belt whippings and scoldings just by not being around when punishment came through the door. So I believed him when he said something ticklish crawled over his shoulder, and when he turned around, there, across the dance floor, in front of the bandleader about to make an announcement over the microphone, was his boss, Mr. Baxter-and boy was he steamed!

Mr. Baxter owned the catering service, and sometimes, my brother said, the way he'd yell at the busboys, it was like he owned them, too. Mr. Baxter didn't say anything, just pointed to the door, then at Nardo, and scratched a big X across his chest. Just like that, he was fired.

The way Nardo tells it, you'd think he did that man a favor working for him. "Don't you ever get braces, Manny," he said, as if that were the lesson he'd learned.

At first Nardo didn't want to go to the fields. Not because of pride, although he'd have used that excuse at the beginning if he could've gotten away with it. It was more because, like anyone else, he didn't like sobbing out tears of sweat in 110-degree sun. That summer was a scorcher, maybe the worst in all the years we'd lived in that valley desert, which our town would've been if the irrigation pumped in from the Sierra were turned off. I could tell how searing it was by the dragged-out way my mom's roses drooped every morning after I watered them. The water didn't catch hold. The roses only sighed a moment before the sun sucked even that little breather away.

Although it was hard for Nardo to duck my mom's accusing eyes, especially when Magda, my sister, came home slumped from the laundry after feeding bedsheets all day into a steam press, he was refusing to work anymore. Whether one tried threats, scoldings, or even shaming, which my mom tried almost every other day, nothing worked. We all gave it a shot, but none more vigorously than my dad. He'd yell and stomp around a little space of anger he'd cut in our living room, a branch of spit dangling from his lip. He'd declare to the walls what a good-for-nothing son he had, even dare Nardo to at least be man enough to join the Army. He vowed to sign the papers himself, since Nardo wasn't old enough.

The thing was, my dad wasn't working either. He'd just lost his job as a translator for the city because he'd drink beer during lunch and slur his words. Ever since losing his job, and even before, really, Dad had about as much patience as you could prop on a toothpick. He was always zeroing in on things he wanted to be disappointed in, and when he found one, he'd loose a curse quicker than an eyeblink. Even when he wasn't cursing, you could still feel one simmering there under his lip, ready to boil over.

Parrot in the Oven. Copyright © by Victor Martinez. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

Introduction:

Winner of the 1996 National Book Award in the Young People's Literature category, Parrot in the Oven: mi vida deals with the pressures of family and community that Manny Hernandez faces during the fourteenth year of his life. Manny Hernandez's dad is always calling him el perico, or "the parrot," from a Mexican saying about a parrot who complains how hot it is in the shade while all along he's sitting in the oven and doesn't know it. But Manny, wanting to be smarter than the parrot, struggles with the awkwardness of adolescence as he searches for acceptance and becomes a vato firme, a stand-up guy.

Rich imagery in a series of vividly real vignettes guides us around the obstacles in Manny's coming-of-age—pressure to join a gang, awkward crushes, and fitting in with friends. Manny also copes with the characters in his crazy family--a drunk father, a brother who "flips through more jobs than a thumb through a deck of cards," a mother who compulsively scrubs, hoping her troubles will be washed away, and a sister who has a miscarriage.

Questions For Discussion:

  1. Reviewed as a "brilliant, witty memoir of a Mexican-American adolescence" (U. S. News and World Report), Parrot in the Oven is clearly a story highly influenced by the race and culture of its protagonist. But the crises and problems that Manny experiences—love, violence, sibling conflicts, gangs—are universal obstacles in teenage life. How do Manny's experiences speak to readers of all genders, races, and socioeconomic levels? How is Manny's story specific to the Hispanic-American barrio life thatthe author introduces? Are there certain experiences that are more applicable to urban communities? Males?
  2. In Chapter 4, "The Bullet," we discover the meaning of the book's title. Is el perico an accurate description of Manny? Is it ironic that Manny's father calls him this? In what ways is Manny trusting or not trusting? How does Manny become wiser in the course of the novel? What light does the title's significance shed on Manny's relationship with his father and on his father's personality?
  3. Readers of Parrot in the Oven plunge into Manny's world through a series of chapter-length vignettes, each detailing a specific episode in Manny's critical fourteenth year of life. Before he wrote Parrot in the Oven, Victor Martinez was primarily a short-story writer and poet. Do you think that the format of this novel is influenced by Martinez's work as a poet? Can the vignettes be appreciated as separate entities? What links each episode to the others in the novel?
  4. Overflowing with figurative language, Parrot in the Oven is "a whirlwind of surprising similes and inventive turns of phrase" (Kirkus Reviews). How does Martinez's rich language make Manny's story more poignant? Did the language enrich your reading of this novel? What are some of the most memorable metaphors and images in the novel? Do you notice any recurring metaphors?
  5. Whom do you see as the head of the Hernandez household? In discussing this, consider the episodes described in Chapters 4 and 5, when Mrs. Hernandez allows her abusive husband to be taken to jail but anxiously awaits his return. Is there a bread-winner in this family? Does the Hispanic culture have an influence on who assumes the role of the family figurehead? How does this affect Manny and his relationship with each of his parents? Keeping in mind all the situations in the year that the novel spans, who is the family's decision-maker?
  6. Are you surprised by Mr. Hernandez's compassion at the conclusion of the "Family Affair" chapter, which details Magda's miscarriage? Why or why not? Do you think that Mrs. Hernandez and Manny's worry was necessary?
  7. Victor Martinez is a native Californian who worked a variety of odd jobs and believes he was steered in the right direction by a couple of good teachers. How do you think that Martinez's life both influences and enhances Manny's tender story?
  8. Throughout the novel, we get to know Nardo as Manny's strong older brother who knows how to have a good time, but doesn't necessarily know how to hold down a job. Manny and Nardo are clearly different, and Manny occasionally points these instances out. But how are Manny and Nardo alike? And what, specifically, is so different about the brothers? Is each of the brothers more like one of their parents?
  9. Discuss the way Manny narrates the situation in "The Rifle," when Pedi is almost shot. Who, if anyone, is blamed for the shooting?
  10. Several of the characters in Parrot in the Oven idealize specific material possessions. Manny's wants a baseball glove "so bad a sweet hurt blossomed in his stomach whenever he thought about it" (p.7). Magda "lived and breathed to caress her records" (p.90). Mother has her movies and statues, and Father has his rifle. Why do the characters value these possessions? Is there any common characteristic among these desired items? Can you think of any other items that characters seek in this novel?

About the Author:

Victor Martinez says that his background "makes up the stuff of his work." Born and raised in Fresno, California, the fourth in a family of twelve children, he attended California State University at Fresno and Stanford University. Mr. Martinez has also worked as a field laborer, welder, truck driver, firefighter, teacher, and office clerk.

Victor Martinez's poems, short stories, and essays have appeared in such prestigious publications as Si, El Andar, The Bloomsbury Review, and the High Plains Literary Review.

Victor Martinez lives with his wife in San Francisco. Parrot in the Oven: mi vida, winner of the National Book Award and the Pura Belpre Award, is his first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 31 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 15, 2010

    Great book, I recommend it.

    The book I'm reviewing is Parrot in the Oven, by Victor Martinez, published by Joanna Cotler Books. This book is set in a Mexican-American part of a city that is not exactly the greatest place in the world to grow up in. I believe that this is the most important part of the book. The main character Manny grows up here in a house with a father and a brother without jobs, an older sister and a younger sister, and a mother who is still trying to raise Manny right. Manny has to grow up, fast, because he is only fourteen and he has to live in a mean world. In this world, Manny has has all of the problems of an average teenager, he wants to be popular, he wants a girlfriend and all of the other troubles teenagers have. But there's one problem, he is a good kid and growing up in the wrong environment. He has a father who tried to kill his mother, a sister who got pregnant, and kids beating him up. The theme of this book is that no matter what happens, making the right decision is always the best thing to do. This theme is shown throughout the book with Manny being a good kid until he joins a gang to kiss a girl. In this gang, one of the members decides to steal a lady's purse. Manny is stuck in a moral battle for an instant until he decides to make his decision, whether good or bad, you'll have to read to find out.
    A major point in this book is to show how bad the lives are of some people, as shown by the quote, "Dad believed people were like money. You could be a thousand dollar person or a hundred dollar person-even a ten, five, or one dollar person. Below that everyone was just nickels and dimes. To my dad, we were pennies."
    I really liked this book, it showed me how hard the lives of people are and showed me how petty my problems are. People take life for granted and this book showes that.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Victor's great writing.

    Well i really love this book. It teaches you about how it was hard back then for Mexican-Americans, and how everything wasn't just right there in their hands. This book is emotional at a point, feeling for the sorrow of others, but it's also something to laugh over and some how a mystery in some parts of the book.

    And the best part i like about the book, is that he kept it real, left no details out. Honestly i recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2013

    For readers who like to read Award Books

    The title of the book did not so interest me like for it being a book that was awarded for which purpose it was bought and read. Based on reading this book by this author, maybe or maybe not in reading another one.

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  • Posted December 16, 2012

    Parrot in the Oven by Victor Martinez is a story about a boy nam

    Parrot in the Oven by Victor Martinez is a story about a boy named Manny and how he grows and develops as a person. Manny struggles to get his priorities in order and must define right and wrong in order to ease his pain. Manny is a Mexican-American living in California, In short Manny’s family is in turmoil, his father is a violent active drunk, his mother is a nervous wreck, his brother Bernard is laid back and lazy with little to no motivation, lastly are his sisters Magda and Pedi. The sisters go hand in hand, Magda being the oldest of the siblings and Pedi being the Youngest Magda takes it upon herself to take care of Pedi.
    Manny has to defuse right and wrong situations throughout the book whether it’s joining a gang or decided to defend a helpless girl he likes. Manny must decide whether to grow up and take responsibility or let others do the work he doesn’t think he can do. Manny’s brother being lazy cannot and will not hold a job to support his self-destructive struggling family. With his sister Magda attempting to make ends meet with little success, many sees an opportunity in the neighborhood gang. Manny might be conflicted but he isn’t stupid. He knows if he joins a gang it means he will make a lot of money very quickly through illegal acts but he also knows there’s a high percentage he will be killed. Manny needs guidance when there is none; unfortunately for him he must handle his problems alone.
    Parrot in the Oven was a good book for those with an interest in moral dilemmas and grey area decisions and how some people choose to put other before themselves. This book shows how important family is, this book tells you that before anything else family is number one on a list of priorities.


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  • Posted January 7, 2009

    A decent book to those interested

    The book I read was ¿Parrot in the Oven¿, by Victor Martinez. Published by Harpercollins Childrens Books in 1996. The book is about a 14 year old Chicano male named Manny living with his poverty stricken, dysfunctional family. He struggles throughout the book to figure out what¿s right and wrong in the world, and to find and make the right choices. Throughout the book, he has to deal with the death of a family member, his sisters pregnancy and miscarriage, his fathers spousal abuse, and local gangs and bullies. He also has to learn to live with his alcoholic father and older siblings. Overall, I liked the book because it was interesting reading about how Manny dealt with all these situations and events as he was growing up. The pacing of the book was overall well done, but there were several parts where the book moved a bit too slowly for me. These sections of the book made it drag on, and made the book quite boring for a while. Fortunately, these sections don¿t last too long, and aren¿t very frequent, so it¿s not as big a problem as it could have been. The book kept my interest very well by how the chapters didn¿t have direct relevance to each other, but were rather a collection of seperate stories. This made the overall pace rather quick, which helped greatly to remove those slow boring parts. I learned about Chicano lifestyle, and saw examples of what growing up in that situation would be like. I would recommend this book to anyone who thinks it sounds interesting, as they would probably enjoy it. If you aren¿t sure if it sounds good or not, I would recommend not reading it, as you probably won¿t enjoy it very much.

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  • Posted January 4, 2009

    Parrot in the Oven

    Parrot in the Oven, written by Victor Martinez, is a book that is meant to revolutionize the reader's viewing on life. The book is about Manny Hernandez, a teenager from a neighborhood in Fresno, California that is divided into gangs and families supported with welfare that are struggling to survive. Manny's mother is constantly trying to change the family's lifestyle, but there is no hope. Manny's father comes home every night intoxicated from the nearby bar and he does not care about the family as much as Manny's mother. Manny barely connects with his family, and he starts to look for a new role to strive for. I liked this book because it showed a different side to California than what is in the media. For example, the author talks about how life is in the projects and the difference between Manny's neighborhood than his Caucasian teacher's more expensive home in another part of the city. I learned the difficulty of living in this kind of lifestyle and the struggle to get out of it by reading this book. I would recommend it to anyone who likes an easy read and wants to read about the struggles of life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2008

    Parrot In The Oven review

    Parrot In The Oven Mi Vida is a story about fourteen year old Manny Hernandez living in Fresno California with his poor family. Manny has to deal with many family and social problems. He has a father, without a job a mother who does nothing, a brother who can¿t keep a job very long and a sister who lost a baby, also his grandmother had recently passed away. Manny encounters social problems such as becoming involved in a gang. Also he does not fit in with a lot of his peers at school. Outside of Manny¿s social life he lives in poverty, they struggle to get by. His family is Mexican-American his father is a drunk and his mom pretends that they live a perfect life. Manny looks up to his brother Bernard however he has not set a very high standard for Manny to live up to. Manny also has other siblings that he is not well connected with. Manny goes to school and has few friends. He usually only hangs around with one person, Albert who is his close friend. He gets small work hear and there to earn a few dollars. At one point he becomes initiated into a gang. From his experiences with the gang he learns a lesson that he will not forget. Manny¿s family environment and social life creates a world unlike any other. There is constant action and it never repeats itself. The constant page turning feeling created by the context ensure for a great read. Parrot In The Oven Mi Vida is a great work of Hispanic-English literature.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2007

    About 'Parrot in the Oven'

    The novel, 'Parrot in the Oven', written by Victor Martinez. It is a coming of age story about a 14-year old boy named Manny Hernandez. Manny has a family of 5 plus himself. His father is an abusive drunk, while his mother tries to pretend everything is alright by cleaning the house constantly. He has an irresponsible older brother who can't seem to keep a job for various reasons and 2 sisters. He has grown up in a poor neighborhood, and a poor school. Manny wants to be noticed and respected by people and the way to do that in his neighborhood, is to join a gang. Manny is not sure whether he wants to do that or not. He is the more responsible or dependable child in the family. Manny's father calls him Perico, meaning parrot. It is usually used when talking about ignorant people, although Manny is not ignorant, but trusts what people are saying too easily. Manny is not presented with opportunity and goes through many struggles, including his father's abusive behavior, his attempt at transferring to a better school, and meeting new friends, better known as a gang. He tries all these things and more, trying to learn whats right and what will earn himself respect within his community. I liked this book because it had tense moments where you aren't quite sure what actually happened, but are intrigued all the same. For example, ¿The sound of the gun going off was like a huge mouth swallowing a noise, and Pedi was eaten by that mouth.¿ Here, it is not entirely clear what had actually happened, and therefore you are forced to read on. ¿Pedi was dead, i knew it. The way she fell back on the floor, she could only be dead.¿ In this quote, you can be certain that Manny had indeed killed his sister, Pedi, when in fact it is a false assumption. ¿I thought i was going to pass out, but then I heard her crying, and when i speeded over to her, her mouth was fluttering.¿ This quote proves that Manny had not killed his sister, but did in fact come very close to doing so. These quotes show the intensity of some moments during this book, and some good reason for why it had intrigued me so much to go on. This book taught me that there are consequences for my actions and that I should not always trust what others say, but trust my own thoughts. I would recommend this book to people that are interested in coming of age stories, or just realistic accounts of one's struggles. I recommend this novel because it gives you an intense reality of life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2007

    Great story!

    I had to read this book for english class. At first, I was a little bummed, because I read the back part, and it didn't seem to be very interesting. But once I started reading it... I couldn't put it down. LiTERALLY. It's a good book for adolescents, and I'd recommend it for free reading. I loved how it wasn't sugar-coated like many stories, and was really tell it like it is.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2006

    Okay, but not the best

    Parrot in the Oven was a good book. I had to read it for English class in school. It wasn't a bad book to read for school, but i wouldnt recommend it for free reading. xoxo love always, Kat

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2006

    Boring and Stupid

    It doesn't have any point, I was very disappointed with the quality of the writing that was used in this book. I had to read it for a class assignment, and it was pure torture. Finally as I reached the end of this book, that I was suprised I even got even that far, it got a little dramatic, then it ended with abslutly no point to the whole thing!!!!! A big waste of time, definently a no read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2005

    Loved It....

    It was a great book...i enjoyed reading it and it has become one of my favorite books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2004

    Parrot in the Oven

    A drunken, unemployed father, a submissive mother, and a journey to finding himself in a world still so mysterious to him: this is the life of Manuel Hernandez, a fourteen year old boy in Victor Martinez National Book Award winning novel, 'Parrot in the Oven'. This novel awoke something inside me and enlightens me to the real troubles this young boy experiences on his path on becoming a man. This incredible story takes place in the projects where poverty is not abnormal. Manuel and his family live the established 'accepted' Chicano life in which the macho father controls the subservient wife, who in turn supports her husband blindly. Manuel experiences domestic violence, racism, and is made an outcast among others. These events generates the dramatic and powerful novel into a must read for any. When Manny's father crosses the line by trying to kill his wife, Manuel must decide what path he will take, the path on which his father travels, or his own path that will lead him to become a better man than his father. This novel is perhaps one of the most powerful and heart felt novels I have read. I witnessed, the life of a young adolescent Chicano mature throughout the novel into a more strong, confident, and inspirational character, which motivated me to read more into the novel just to see how this young boy Manuel will overcome all of life's challenges. Parrot in the Oven is the perfect novel for anyone wanting to read something inspiring or for anyone looking for a good novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2004

    Parrot in the Oven: Mi vida

    Parrot in the Oven was reviewed as a luminous, humorous journal of a Mexican-American teens. This novel is divided into eleven short chapters where Victor narrates stories. It is written in a form that can be read by a wide range of ages, but the story is truly genuine. Its emphasis is on the life of Manuel Hernandez and his family struggling with problems such as a racism, poverty, and violence. Fourteen-year-old Manuel, called 'Manny', has an older brother, Bernardo, often referred to as 'Nardo', an older sister, Magda, and a younger sister Pedi. The Hernandez family continuously avoids people such as the Garcia¿s family, who are almost always doing something no good. Manuel¿s father can¿t maintain a job, like his son Bernardo. His father spends the majority of his free time at Rico¿s Pool Hall drinking and getting angry just to return to his home, occasionally resulting in offensive actions and we can see this in chapter 2 ¿Rico¿s Pool Hal.¿ Manuel¿s mother tries so hard to preserve a clean, and socially adequate home, but her constant arguments with her husband, as well as Magda¿s behavior for lack of respect and dependability, manage to maintain her tension level high, and the contemplation of true joy unthinkable. Manuel wants to be valued, but what he in truth wants is to be loved, particularly by a girl like in chapter 9, ¿ Dying of Love¿. In chapter 10 ¿A Test of Courage¿ said, 'Just thinking about telling a girl I liked her clamped the muscles on my chest and made my lungs pull hard to catch a breath.' sooner or later, Manuel gave up the initiative that he would ever be 'nice' to young girls and Manny decides to join a gang to see if he is permitted to kiss a girl. He kisses the girl, but later on Manuel realizes that he doesn¿t really need to belong to a gang to kiss a girl, he can do that whenever he is allowed. From the beginning to the end of the novel, we get to know Nardo as Manny's strong older brother who knows how to have a good time, but he doesn¿t essentially knows how to keep a job. Manny and Nardo are evidently unlike, and Manny rarely points these out. At the end we can see in chapter 11 ¿Going Home¿ that Manuel realized that he had the whole time a real home. He sits in his house, watching his sisters sleep on the sofa and he knows, for the first time, that this is where he is supposed to be, at home not his house but his home with his family.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2004

    Good Book

    This book was great.I think kids should read it because it gives more about live and your own life. How we live.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2004

    Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida

    Victor Martinez's Parrot in the Oven: mi vida is a beautifully written coming-of-age novel. Manny Hernandez is lost in the midst of his poverty-stricken, dysfunctional family. His dad is an alcoholic and his mom is busy cleaning and trying to keep her crumbling family together. Manny desperately seeks a role model, but he will have to look outside his family, since his older siblings are also dealing with their own issues and do not offer much to look up to. It is difficult for him to find someone to look up to when he is surrounded by gangs, no-good neighbors, and a teacher, Mrs. Van der Meer, who does not think he is worth the extra effort. Parrot in the Oven is about a Mexican-American boy and the issues he and his family face. However this book will be an inspirational read to all children and teenagers who face issues such as teem pregnancy, alcohol abuse, gangs, poverty, and even sexual curiosity. It teaches them that no matter what their background is they have choices and opportunities.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2003

    This book was great....

    Man I think this vato is going through tough times..I am Chicano and I'v been through a situation similar my mother didn't have that much money but now we are progressing...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2003

    PARROT IN THE OVEN

    I loved this book. a lot of people say it is especially good to read for mexican - americans and it is, but it is also a great read for anyone. it is so interesting and soo real. READ IT FOR YOURSELF!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2003

    Alejandra's Review

    This Book Is So Real. I also, I'm A Mexican-American. There's Lots Of Issues I Never Really Thought About In This Novel. Victor Martinez Gives A Great Insight To What Life Is To Being A Young Mexican-American. Out Of All The Books I've Read This Gots To Be The Best, In My Opinion. I Never Knew 'Nuestra Raza' Could Go Threw These Rough Isssues And It's Good For Me To See That Right Now At My Age It Is Normal To Feel All Mixed Up And Have All These Issues In My Mind. Victor Martinez Novel Is Really Beautiful. It's A Must Read. If You Don't Read It You Have No Idea What Your Missing Out In. Anything That Has To Do 'La Raza' I Must Read. It's So Intersting And True.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2002

    it was amazing how much i was able to relate to this book!

    This book is encredibly interesting...i started reading it one afternoon and finished it the next day...its one of thoes books that you pick up and cant seem to put back down...and it made it even more intersting being that i am a mexican - american....and being that my dad is also an alcoholic...it was just a great book...made me in some way...realize i aint alone! if it was possible i would give this book 10 stars...its a MUST READ!!!-esp if u have mexican blood in u!

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