Pub. Date:
University of Arizona Press
Nobody's Son: Notes from an American Life

Nobody's Son: Notes from an American Life

by Luis Alberto Urrea
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Here's a story about a family that comes from Tijuana and settles into the 'hood, hoping for the American Dream.
. . . I'm not saying it's our story. I'm not saying it isn't. It might be yours.
"How do you tell a story that cannot be told?" writes Luis Alberto Urrea in this potent memoir of a childhood divided. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and an Anglo mother from Staten Island, Urrea moved to San Diego when he was three. His childhood was a mix of opposites, a clash of cultures and languages. In prose that seethes with energy and crackles with dark humor, Urrea tells a story that is both troubling and wildly entertaining. Urrea endured violence and fear in the black and Mexican barrio of his youth. But the true battlefield was inside his home, where his parents waged daily war over their son's ethnicity. "You are not a Mexican!" his mother once screamed at him. "Why can't you be called Louis instead of Luis?" He suffers disease and abuse and he learns brutal lessons about machismo. But there are gentler moments as well: a simple interlude with his father, sitting on the back of a bakery truck; witnessing the ultimate gesture of tenderness between the godparents who taught him the magical power of love. "I am nobody's son. I am everybody's brother," writes Urrea. His story is unique, but it is not unlike thousands of other stories being played out across the United States, stories of other Americans who have waged war—both in the political arena and in their own homes—to claim their own personal and cultural identity. It is a story of what it means to belong to a nation that is sometimes painfully multicultural, where even the language both separates and unites us. Brutally honest and deeply moving, Nobody's Son is a testament to the borders that divide us all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780816522705
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Publication date: 08/01/2002
Series: Camino del Sol
Pages: 188
Sales rank: 225,542
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

What People are Saying About This

Robert Boswell

Urrea writes with a rare combination of heartfelt passion and self-deprecating humor.

John Nichols

A tough, beautiful, turbulent, and often astonishing memoir.

Terry Tempest Williams

Smart, witty, hip, and at times heartbreakingly honest.

Richard Shelton

Urrea's sheer verbal energy and speed are dazzling.

Benjamin Alire Saenz

There is an honest and precise passion in this book.

Ernest J. Gaines

I commend him for the pure style of his prose and the reaffirmation of the American Story.

Rudolfo Anaya

This book shines with genius.

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Nobody's Son: Notes from an American Life 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
voracious on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This collection of essays from the author's life experiences were written in prose-like language, alternating with story-tellling and occasional rants. There were parts of this autobiography that I enjoyed. The author's caustic wit was most apparent when discussing his feelings of isolation regarding his mixed Mexican-Caucasian heritage. His experiences of racism and disdain for intolerance was a primary theme throughout the narrative. I think I would have enjoyed this book more had it not been so disturbing and sad. While you can't judge a book about an author's life over whether it was happy or dysphoric, it made for a rather depressing read. His experiences of abuse from his father were barely lightened by his near adoption by his fictive kin/godparents in San Diego. His years of pseudoadoption taught the author about love and joy, something he had not been aware of prior to those familial experiences. I wish the rest of his story had been as optimistic but unfortunately, this was not the case.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
A good read, it's a little slow at times, but can be intense. The author uses great words, very descriptive!