Bodega Dreams


Author: Quinonez, Ernesto

Title: Bodega Dreams

Genre: Urban literature

Publication Date: 2000

Number of Pages: 213

Geographical Setting: Spanish Harlem

Time setting: Present day

Plot Summary: Love, murder, idealisms and Latin American emotion all play a part in the day to day world of Spanish Harlem. Julio Mercado, better known by his street name, Chino, has lived in Spanish Harlem since he was a young boy and has always been there for his lifelong friend Sapo. While Sapo went to work as a collector/enforcer for the neighborhood crime boss, Willie Bodega, Chino went to college, married his very religious grammar school crush and now has a child on the way. Chino is summoned by Bodega, through Sapo, and is asked by Bodega for a favor. At first he doesn’t like Bodega and denies him, but his affinity grows for him when he realizes Bodega is using money from his criminal enterprise to help the residents of the neighborhood better their lives. Chino helps Bodega with a favor, but no-one, especially Chino and Bodega, realizes that they have been double crossed by someone who they both considered an ally, until it’s too late.

Subject Headings: Puerto Ricans; Latin Americans; Latin American–religion; Latin American–growing up; Latin American–neighborhoods; Crime; Friendships; Latin American—marriage; Young marriage—problems.

Appeal Terms: Measured pace,unhurried , lifelike characters, strong secondary characters, well drawn characters, dramatic characters, flashbacks, menacing atmosphere, optimistic atmosphere, conversational language, candid language, natural language, plot twists, strong language, details of Latin American life, details of Latin American street life, details of Latin American family life, urban, dialect language.

Red Flags: Drug use, offensive language, violence.

Fiction read-a-likes

Carlito’s Way by Edwin Torres. Urban, Details of Latin American street life, plot twists.

A Nation of Amor by Christopher Connell. Details of Latin American street life, menacing atmosphere, urban.

Affinity for Trouble- A Puerto Rican story by Hector Varlea. Lifelike Characters, details of Latin American family life, natural language.

Non-Fiction read-a-likes

Down These Mean Streets By Piri Thomas. This is the classic memoir about the author’s life growing up in Spanish Harlem and the problems he faced as a Puerto Rican. He also recounts how he turned his life around after he hit rock bottom, going to prison, after a life of crime and drugs.

Barrio Dreams by Arlene Davila. This book examines the feelings of Latin Americans who live in Spanish Harlem and the feelings towards progress, politics, development, schooling and family, as well as other social issues in this very tiny and compact part of a large city.

My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King by Reymundo Sanchez. Take a firsthand look inside the most fierce and largest Latin American gang, which started out a social movement to protect the interest of Latin Americans, but transformed into a criminal empire.



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