“Manuel Luis Martinez takes us into a world that exists all over this country but is rarely portrayed so deeply--the decidedly unmagical realm of struggling Mexican Americans. In Drift, he delivers the trials of his young hero with honesty and passion and some of the best writing about work I've ever read.” Stewart O'Nan, author of Wish You Were Here
“Forget the sociology for a minute, Drift's great achievment is the dear and moving portrayal of a grandmother and grandson who love each other profoundly. Such affection is just about the hardest art to pull off, but Manuel Luis Martinez makes it seem easy.” Victor LaValle, author of Slapboxing with Jesus and The Ecstatic
“Drift is the searing tale of a teenage boy torn apart by his longing for his broken family and the demands of his coming adulthood. The book is a sustained and beautiful triumph of voice -- a voice that cries out in every line with anguish, anger, and love.” Jonathan Ames, author of The Extra Man
“This novel is necessary. Manuel Luis Martinez takes us into a world that exists all over this country but is rarely portrayed so deeply--the decidedly unmagical world of struggling Mexican-Americans. In Drift, he delivers the trials of his young hero with honesty and passion and some of the best writing about work I've ever read.” Stewart O'Nan, author of A Prayer for the Dying
“A comical, lyrical, and urgent force of a novel. No matter how lost, abandoned, or unloved life makes us feel, Drift leaves us seeing the glass half full.” Ernesto Quinonez, author of Bodega Dreams
Martinez's impressive second novel (after Crossing) gives us the world through the eyes of 16-year-old Mexican-American Robert Lomos, part tough-talking cynic, part sensitive older brother and son who is forced to learn more than he wants to about adult responsibilities when his mother has a mental breakdown. Robert's father, a jazz musician, abandoned his family two years before; his mother became unstable after his desertion and left San Antonio, Tex., to live with a sister in Los Angeles, taking Robert's three-year-old brother with her. Robert now lives with his no-nonsense grandmother, who sends him to the evangelical Sunnydale Christian Academy when he gets kicked out of public school for acting out. Robert is no angel-favorite activities include fighting, getting high and cruising for girls-but he longs to reunite his family. The jobs available to him, mainly busboy positions, are arduous and low paying, but he toughs it out until he has the money to get to Los Angeles (and succinctly sums up what many restaurant employees think of customers: "Watching them eat is enough to turn you against humanity"). He is hardly welcomed in L.A. with open arms, however. His aunt, Naomi, is hostile and suspicious, fearing that he'll upset the family's fragile equilibrium. Robert's efforts to help his brother, Antony, in school go awry, and he's once again getting into fights. Above all, his mother is more fragile than he imagined, and his attempt at a gallant rescue does not work out as he'd hoped. The story flags somewhat when he returns to San Antonio and a construction job, but Robert's biting, assured voice makes the book a standout. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Sixteen-year-old Robert Lomos lives with his grandmother in Texas after his parents' divorce. His father is a traveling musician, and his mother and younger brother have moved to California. Robert is suspended from school for drug possession and begins attending a strict Christian academy. While there, he makes friends and continues to drift-hanging out, drinking, and smoking. He starts working on weekends at a barbacoa (barbeque) joint and goes on a short, unsatisfying gig with his father. After participating in a vicious fight that results in broken teeth, he takes a bus to California where he plans to become the man of the family for his mother and brother. He finds work as a busboy and visits his mother, aunt, and brother. His mother is content where she is, his aunt does not want Robert around, and a confrontation takes place when they discover that Robert has been signing his brother out of school early as a reward for working hard at his schoolwork. Robert realizes that his plan for the family is never going to happen. He returns to Texas where he works in construction until his grandmother dies, leaving him her small house and savings. He resolves to attend college and make a good life for himself. The characters are realistic, and the work situations are extremely unpleasant. Teen readers will empathize with Robert's struggles. Street language, drug use, and sexual situations are an integral part of this compelling coming-of-age story of a sensitive Mexican American boy. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2003, PicadorUSA/St. Martin's, 244p., $14 Trade pb. Ages 15 to Adult.
The coming-of-age of a young Chicano in Texas, as told by newcomer Martinez. Happy adolescents are the same everywhere, but no one would put Robert Lomos in that category. A Mexican-American born and raised in San Antonio, Robert lives alone with his grandmother, a pious and strong-willed woman who cleans houses for a living and is determined that her grandson will grow up decent, honest, and pure. Robert isn't entirely with the program, but since grandma has sent him to Sunnydale Christian Academy, he can't rebel quite as openly as he'd like. The fact is that Robert comes from fairly wild stock: His father was a jazz musician who abandoned his family years ago, leaving Robert with his grandmother while Robert's mother ran off in desperate (and hopeless) pursuit of her husband. Sunnydale is about as strict as you might imagine (dress code, prayers, continual lectures about Satan), but Robert can spot a kindred spirit at a glance, and he quickly finds one in Nacho, who cultivates sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll just as avidly (and secretly) as Robert. Together, the two raise about as much hell as possible without being expelled, and Robert has the added thrill of scoring with Diana, a convent-school girl whom Nacho is madly in love with. But eventually these small pleasures are just not enough, and Robert runs away to LA to search for (and possibly reunite with) his father and mother. Los Angeles is a different scene entirely, and Robert takes to it well, but his reunion is cut short when his grandmother dies. Is this the end of his innocence? The beginning of his adult life? Will it drive his parents closer together? Or farther apart? Either way, there's no going home again. Standardteenaged angst with a Latin accent. Decently done but unremarkable. Author tour