So-Called Vacation


This illuminating novel for young adults ages 14 and up looks at contemporary as well as familial issues & sheds light on the subjects of immigrant labor & prejudice within the Hispanic community. The author blends ageless themes of fathers & sons at odds with a contemporary issue weighing on many minds.

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A So Called Vacation

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This illuminating novel for young adults ages 14 and up looks at contemporary as well as familial issues & sheds light on the subjects of immigrant labor & prejudice within the Hispanic community. The author blends ageless themes of fathers & sons at odds with a contemporary issue weighing on many minds.

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Editorial Reviews

In a Chicano neighborhood in Texas, teenage Gabriel cannot believe that his dad wants the family to spend the summer doing fieldwork in California to earn extra money. The Gustavos are Americans, born in the U.S., unlike most migrant workers, Gabriel thinks. At first, Gabriel sees himself as a tourist slumming in the camps, but he gradually accepts that he is part of the "sad squalor," as he does exhausting piece labor for low pay and lives in a crowded shack without electricity or plumbing. There is sometimes too much repetitive detail about the characters and their conflicts and not enough specifics about the realities of their work. But this breakthrough novel offers a realistic view of the contemporary migrant scene, along with complex truths about race and class. Gabriel and his brother are kicked out of the town swimming pool, and they know it is because of their brown color. Yet they are prejudiced too, fearful of the stigma of being labeled illegal. The personal stories will lead to discussion of the big issues.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Gustavo and Gabriel are less than thrilled when their father announces that he is moving the family from their Texas home to California for the summer to pick fruit, just as he did when he first came to the United States from Mexico. Upon arriving at the farm, the family must live in a small shack with no running water or electricity, line up for their weekly pay, and survive the unwritten rules of their new society. Themes of prejudice, equality, machismo, and interdependence ring throughout González's work, painting a picture of life that most students do not see. Although the story is heartfelt, it comes across as disjointed and awkward at times. Conversations are forced and do not flow well, serving to drive the themes of the novel rather than reveal the spirit of the characters.—Richard J. Snyder, Inglewood Junior High School, Sammamish, WA
Kirkus Reviews
Gonzalez focuses on family relationships in this sketchy tale of a Tejano and his two sons in a migrant labor camp. Announcing that they all need the experience as much as the money, Gus and Gabriel's father drives the family to California for a summer of fieldwork. Once there, the lads moan about the hard labor, exchange bawdy banter with fellow workers and encounter discrimination in the local town. Gus falls in with one ne'er-do-well neighbor, another neighbor supplies his sons with pills that make them work at maniacal speed and Gabriel is disturbed to find that his own attitudes toward migrants aren't all that positive. In the end their father abruptly bundles them all back to Texas, and an epilogue reveals that even after his death eight years later Gus nurses some sort of enduring grievance against him. With the exception of several obvious types, Gabriel is the only sharply delineated character in this loosely constructed, character-driven tale. Some food for thought, but Joyce McDonald's Devil on My Heels (2004) or Cynthia DeFelice's Under the Same Sky (2003) presents many of the same issues better. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558855458
  • Publisher: Arte Publico Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/2009
  • Pages: 195
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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