The Year of Our Revolution

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Overview

Fiction. Poetry. Latino/Latina Studies. Young Adult. "Returning to the territory covered in An Island Like You and SILENT DANCING, Cofer further heightens her descriptions of barrio life with a pervasive current of sensuality and rebellion in this volume of poems and stories about growing up during the turbulent 1960s. Most of the stories are described in hindsight by narrator Mary Ellen, who is also known as Maria Elenita (however, readers may have trouble keeping track of the various narrators in the early ...

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Overview

Fiction. Poetry. Latino/Latina Studies. Young Adult. "Returning to the territory covered in An Island Like You and SILENT DANCING, Cofer further heightens her descriptions of barrio life with a pervasive current of sensuality and rebellion in this volume of poems and stories about growing up during the turbulent 1960s. Most of the stories are described in hindsight by narrator Mary Ellen, who is also known as Maria Elenita (however, readers may have trouble keeping track of the various narrators in the early stories—which are all told through first-person narration but from differing ages and perspectives). Caught between Hispanic and American lifestyles, and eager to break free of traditional Hispanic values, Mary Ellen is strongly attracted to things that are alien to her parents. Readers will likely relate to Mary Ellen's struggle for independence, her idealism and her need for answers, themes that Cofer carries through the entire collection. In "The Meaning of El Amor," for example, the narrator sneaks into a nightclub where her recently deceased father, "the Puerto Rican Romeo," moonlighted to find out why love causes so much suffering. Cofer's lyrical descriptions of how music and the Vietnam War fired Mary Ellen's youthful passions are affecting: "When she was deep into a song, Janis [Joplin] became beautiful. Her voice, hoarse and choked with pain, went right through my skin, and I began to understand the meaning of soul, el duende, in American music." Readers in the suggested age range may miss the most rewarding aspects of Cofer's work, but for mature teenagers, there is wisdom aplenty in this radiant collection. Ages 11-up"—Publishers Weekly.

A collection of poems, short storie, and essays address the theme of straddling two cultures as do the offspring of Hispanic parents living in the United States.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Rebecca Joseph
New and selected stories and poems by the award-winning author of An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio are presented in this wonderful collection. The title story explores the first love of a young Hispanic girl. While the "Meaning of El Amor," details a young girl struggles with memories of her father who led a double life. All the beautifully written pieces reflect struggles with identity, love, and family.
VOYA - Susan Dunn
This short collection of "new and selected stories and poems" by acclaimed Puerto Rican author Cofer features several teenage female protagonists who talk about their lives, their dreams, their first experiences with love, battles with their parents, and, of course, growing up in a multicultural world. It is full of rich descriptions of childhood spent in the barrios of New Jersey, and of a culture foreign to many, but nevertheless fascinating. One memorable story involves a girl named Isabel and her janitor father who works as an emcee at a nightclub. Because her mother does not approve of his job, it is never discussed around the house. Isabel has always imagined that her father's second job is glamorous and exciting, so when she turns eighteen she goes to the club to see for herself. Sitting in a booth in the back where she imagines she will not be spotted, and planning to surprise her father at the end, Isabel instead watches her father humiliate himself. The show is cheap and tawdry, and the club is second-rate. Embarrassed and ashamed, Isabel leaves before the show is over and never mentions it to her father. It is only after his death that Isabel discovers her father had seen her in the audience that night. As one of the other performers tells her, "he wanted you to see him as he really was. He hoped that you would talk to him." Unfortunately, Isabel never took that chance. It might take a specialized audience, but readers who enjoy this book should also be directed toward Cofer's An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio (Orchard, 1995/VOYA August 1995). VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
Kirkus Reviews
A more intimate, focused follow-up to Cofer's well-received An Island Like You (1995). Separated by short, meditative poems, all but one of these nine stories sketch fond, ironic views of life in a New Jersey barrio as they chronicle a teenager's emergent understanding of her parents and the awakening of her sexuality in the mid-1960s. The exception is a folktale-like story of a wise young Puerto Rican woman who prefers to win a bandit over rather than kill him; the rest are first-person accounts, set in either Puerto Rico or Paterson, New Jersey. These include quiet battles with parents over clothes, friends, and behavior; memories of that first kiss and of intense but unsatisfying encounters with men, one a Vietnam War vet made impotent by a mine, the other a self-absorbed schoolmate strung out on mind-altering drugs. Although the narrator's identity sometimes changesþe.g., in the pivotal title story, narrative duties are shared by Mary Ellen and her mother, Mar¡a ElenaþCofer's candid voice does not, and the poems and incidents, otherwise fragmentary, are strongly linked by that consistency. (Short stories. 13-15)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558852242
  • Publisher: Arte Publico Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith Ortiz Cofer was born in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, in 1952. She was raised on the island and in Paterson, New Jersey, before her family finally settled in Augusta, Georgia. She received her B.A. in English from Augusta College in 1974, and her M.A. in English from Florida Atlantic University, and did graduate work at Oxford University in 1977. Her collections of poetry include: THE YEAR OF OUR REVOLUTION: New and Selected Stories and Poems (1998), winner of the Paterson Book Prize given by the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College; The Latin Deli: Prose & Poetry (1993), winner of the Anisfield Wolf Book Award; Terms of Survival (1989), REACHING FOR THE MAINLAND & SELECTED NEW POEMS (1987), and Latin Women Pray (1980). Cofer is also the author of essays, fiction, and prose, and her work has been published in numerous anthologies. Her young adult book An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio (1996) has received several distinctions, including The American Library Association Reforma Pura Belpre Medal and the Fanfare Best Book of the Year award. Cofer's awards and honors include grants from the Georgia Council for the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts for poetry, the University of Georgia Humanities Center, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, The Florida Fine Arts Council, and the Janet Rice Memorial Fellowship from Florida Atlantic University. She is currently the Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia, and an associate staff member of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

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