Archive for the ‘Latino/a’ Category

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

April 20, 2011

  Author: Junot Diaz

  Title: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

  Genre: Literary Fiction, Latino Fiction

  Publication Date: 2007

  Number of Pages: 335

  Geographical Setting: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and New Jersey

  Time Period: 1940s – early 1990s

Plot Summary:
Focusing primarily on Oscar, an obese Dominican-American sci-fi nerd searching for love and acceptance in New Jersey, Junot Diaz recounts the damage wrought on the de Leon family by the fuku, a supernatural curse that has tormented the family for several generations. Diaz’s narrator traces the fuku from its origins in the Dominican Republic during the dictatorship of Trujillo to its current home in New Jersey where it wreaks havoc on Oscar.

The conversational tone of this family saga leavens the darkness of the tragedy at play. While disaster plagues the de Leons at every turn, they love deeply and fiercely, and the complicated bonds between family members and lovers drive most of the action of novel. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a compelling look at life in the Dominican Republic during the Trujillo era and the Dominican-American experience as an immigrant in New Jersey.

Subject Headings:
Family relationships, Men/women relations, Curses, Dominican-Americans, Latinos, New Jersey, Dominican Republic, Loss, Misfits, Social acceptance, Trujillo, Dictatorship, Ghettos

Tragic, conversational, unpretentious, compelling, episodic, descriptive, introspective, character-centered, flawed characters, multiple points of view, authentic, urban, vivid, dialect, colloquial

3 terms that best describe this book:
Tragic, conversational, Latino

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
The Invisible Mountain by Carolina de Robertis
Three generations of women search for love and identity in Uruguay during the politically turbulent 20th century.
Similarities: Multigenerational family saga, coming of age under a Hispanic dictator (Uruguay), character Eva becomes a writer

The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
Coming-of-age tale of Dylan and Mingus, two friends growing up in a racially charged area of Brooklyn in the 70s, and the diverging paths their lives take in adulthood.
Similarities: Urban setting, precocious protagonists, fantastic elements

The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat
Ka’s father reveals that he was actually a prison guard – a torturer – under the Haitian dictator Duvalier and not the prison escapee he previously claimed. The narrative jumps between past and present to tell the tales of those he hurt and how his revelation affects his relationship with his daughter.
Similarities: Multiple narrative threads, alternating between past and present, family relationships, atrocities committed during a dictatorship (Haiti)

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola by Michele Wucker
A social history of Hispaniola and the two island nations that struggle for supremacy over the land. Includes discussion of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo’s genocide of Haitians and the cultural differences that fuel their misunderstandings.
Similarities: Dominican Republic setting, discussion of the Trujillo regime, Diaz mentions the enmity existing between Haiti and the Dominican Republic

Something to Declare by Julia Alvarez
Bestselling author Julia Alvarez muses on her upbringing as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, trying to assimilate in New York, how she became a writer, and her experiences as a feminist
Similarities: Alvarez immigrated from the Dominican Republic, Oscar is also a writer

Musings and Meditations: Reflections on Science Fiction, Science, and Other Matters by Robert Silverberg
A collection of essays written by the acclaimed science fiction writer provide insight into the craft of writing and the science fiction genre.
Similarities: Oscar is a science fiction writer

Name: Cassie Carbaugh

Bodega Dreams by Ernesto Quiñonez

April 19, 2011

Author: Ernesto Quiñonez

Title: Bodega Dreams

Genre:  Urban fiction

Publication Date: 2000

Number of Pages:  213

Geographical Setting: East Harlem

Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary:  Julio Mercado, also known as Chino, lives in the same East Harlem neighborhood that he grew up in.  He is married to his beautiful high school sweetheart, Blanca, who is pregnant, and they both attend community college night classes while also working to save up money for when the baby arrives.  Chino has remained friends with Sapo, a childhood friend that he grew up causing trouble with, and who is still involved with all of the neighborhoods shadiest characters.  Occasionally Chino does small favors for Sapo, such as holding onto packages for him.  Through Sapo, Chino is introduced to Willie Bodega, a real estate developer and drug dealer.  As a younger man, Bodega had been a street activist, but now he has plans to empower the Latinos of East Harlem with money.  He uses his drug money to buy condemned buildings from the city and renovate them, creating better, cheaper housing for the people of his neighborhood.  He also gives money to people of the neighborhood to better their own lives, putting them through school and buying them new clothes to help them find jobs.  His goal is to create a vibrant Latino neighborhood, where the people are wealthy and empowered; he wanted a Latino version of mid-town Manhattan.  However, he is also still in love with Veronica, his childhood sweetheart who had left him for a wealthy Cuban.  In a way, everything he does to build up his wealth and reputation is part of a scheme to get her back.  Veronica happens to be Blanca’s aunt, and so Bodega and his attorney, Nazario, draft Chino into their plans, since, as a married man with a baby on the way who is going to school, he provides a better image for their plans than the other street thugs that they often use, as well as a connection to Veronica.  Chino is hesitant to get involved, but does so for the sake making a better life for him and his family.  He soon realizes he is involved in more than he bargained for, when a reporter investigating Bodega winds up dead, and Chino suspects Sapo’s involvement in the murder.  As a rivalry between Bodega and a Jewish real estate developer intensifies, the risks become greater and the violence increases.  As Bodega’s plan to reunite with Veronica appears to be successful, he loses site of his goals for the neighborhood, and Chino realizes that he is in the middle of a much more complicated plot than he had imagined.

Subject Headings:  New York City – Harlem; Organized Crime; People – Latinos; Marriage

Appeal: Leisurely-paced, dangerous, dramatic, philosophical, well-developed characters, introspective, conclusive, violent, layered plot, urban, accessible language, dialect, gritty

Three terms that describe this book: Urban, Gritty, Cinematic

Relevant non-fiction works:

El Barrio – Spanish Harlem – East Harlem. New York.  by Tanya Ahmed (A documentary collection of photographs of the neighborhood where the novel takes place)

Pioneros: Puerto Ricans in New York City 1892-1948  by Felix V. Matos-Rodriguez (A history of Puerto Ricans in New York City, contextualizing the people of the novel and the history of the neighborhood)

New York City Gangland by Arthur Nash (A history of organized crime in New York City)

Relevant Fiction works:

Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas (A classic novel about growing up in Spanish Harlem as an immigrant in a time of dramatic social change)

Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos (The tale of a Cuban boy in 1960s Spanish Harlem, torn between worlds and identities)

The Godfather  by Mario Puzo (The classic novel about New York City organized crime)

Lee R. Sigman

Zorro: A Novel

April 21, 2010

Author:  Isabel Allende

Title:  Zorro: A Novel

Genre:  Historical Fiction, Latino

Publication Date:  2005

Number of Pages:  390

Geographical Setting:  Barcelona, Spain and Southern California

Time Period:  1790-1815

Series:  None

Plot Summary:  Allende’s retelling of the legend of Zorro goes all the way back to the beginning of the legend when Diego de la Vega was born to an aristocratic hidalgo and his Native American wife.  Because of his biracial background Diego is always aware of his outsider status, and from childhood he is sensitive to the injustices that the Spanish colonies commit against the local tribes.  Diego’s affinity for the oppressed is also strengthened by his friendship with Bernardo, his Indian blood brother.

In their early teens, the boys are sent to Spain so that Diego can receive a formal education.  While there, Diego begins fencing training with master Manuel Escalante and begins to follow the path that will lead him to membership in La Justicia, a secret society dedicated to fighting all forms of social injustice, and the creation of his alter ego Zorro.  After numerous adventures in Spain, Diego and his trusted confidante Bernardo must return to California to defend his father’s honor and estate in a fantastic duel that confirms Zorro’s identity as a bold, dashing, and noble hero.

Subject Headings:  Zorro, Secret Societies, Fencing, Aristocracy, Slavery, Justice, Native Americans, California-History-19th century, Spain-History-19th century, Adventure Stories

Appeal:  accessible, action-oriented, cinematic, detailed setting, dramatic, engaging, engrossing, fast paced, historical details, humorous, resolved ending, strong secondary characters

3 terms that best describe this book: cinematic, suspenseful, playful

Similar Authors and Works:


Zorro Unmasked:  The Official History by Sandra R. Curtis.  This book traces the historical origins of the legendary character, based in part on an actual California bandido.  Zorro’s legacy and influence on subsequent pop culture figures, such as Bruce Wayne/Batman are also examined.

Schools and Masters of Fencing: From the Middle Ages to the Eighteenth Century by Egerton Castle.  This readable and high illustrated volume is considered the definitive work on fencing history and the art of European swordsmanship.  This history includes the types of lessons that Diego learned from Master Escalante.

Lands of Promise and Despair: Chonicles of Early California, 1535-1846 by Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz.  Conflicts between missionaries and soldiers, Indians and non-Indians, Hispanics and Anglos are brought to life through the letters, journals, interrogations and interviews collected in this book of primary resources.


Cassandra, Lost by Joanna Catherine Scott.  A young woman from 18th century America elopes to France with a charming French aristocrat.  Upon arrival in France, they find themselves caught up in the midst of the French Revolution.  Cassandra’s observations of the tragedy and destitution of the French people forever change her life.  The novel features the same level of lush imagery as Allende’s tale.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez.  This novel tells a fictionalized account of the courageous story of the Mirabel sisters, who stood up tot he injustices of the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic in the 1950s.

The House of the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre.  This novel tells the story of two families in Puerto Rico, whose lives are interwoven through marriage and business.  The novel focuses on the conflicts around race, class, and Puerto Rico’s changing relationship with Spain and the United States.

Name: Amanda

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

April 21, 2010

Author:  Junot Diaz

Title:  The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Genre:  Literary Fiction, Latino

Publication Date:  2007

Number of Pages:  335

Geographical Setting:  New Jersey, Dominican Republic

Time Period:  Mid to Late 20th Century

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  Oscar’s Dominican line can be traced back to an affluent Trujillo-era family, a surgeon and nurse that existed in social circles adjacent to that of the the savage dictator.  Oscar’s lack of love (and lack of culo) may also be attributed to his quasi-royal grandparents.  By jumping back and forth through time, Junot Diaz presents the genesis and implementation of the fuku (“the Curse and the Doom of the New World”) that has plagued Oscar’s family since the middle of the 20th century.

With a casual, anecdotal narrative littered with comic book, Science Fiction, and Fantasy references, Yunior, a family friend, regales us with this searing family history that details the trials of Oscar, a hopeless romantic and obese SciFi/ Fantasy aficionado who wants desperately for a girlfriend (and to be the Dominican Tolkien), and places them in the context of the tragic family legacy that held sway over The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Subject Headings: Misfits (Persons), Social acceptance; Eccentrics and eccentricities; Interpersonal relationships; Men/women relations; Ghettoes; Ghettoes, Hispanic-American – New Jersey; Family relationships; Curses; Loss (Psychology); Persistence; Dominican-Americans; Hispanic-Americans; New Jersey; Folklore; Hispanic-American fiction

Appeal:  contemporary, character-centered, episodic, vivid, savage, sweeping, unflinching, anecdotal, affecting, explicit, harrowing, witty

3 terms that best describe this book:  funny, engaging, powerful

Similar Works and Authors:


Trujillo is examined in Eric Paul Roodra’s The Dictator Next Door:  The Good Neighbor Policy and the Trujillo Regime in the Dominican Republic, 1930-1945.

Fukued?  Who needs zafa when you have Lady Suzanne Miller’s Omens, Curses & Superstitions:  How to Remove and Reverse Them?

Did Oscar need to focus a little less on his Lovecraft and a little more on his love craft?  Try Ron Louis and David Copeland’s How to Succeed with Women.


Jessica Abel offers a story of self-discovery and personal growth in the graphic novel, La Perdida.  Carla explores her Mexican roots through misguided endeavors.  Personal and tense, Carla struggles to connect and her naivete ultimately lands her in the center of a violent plot.  Although simple, the artwork is evocative.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon is an effervescent tale of Jewish cousins/friends/collaborators that find themselves as pop-culture frontiersmen during the Golden Age of comics.  Another Pulitzer Prize winner.

In The Fortress of Solitude, Jonathan Lethem tells a story of a boy trying to find his place, being caught between two worlds and not quite fitting either.  Music, magic rings, super heroes and comic books figure into the story.  Oscar would approve.


How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

April 13, 2010

Author:  Julia Alvarez

Title:  How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

Genre:  Latino, Audio Book

Publication Date: 1991; Audio 2006

Number of Pages: 8 Compact Discs/ 9.5 hours

Geographical Setting: Bronx, New York

Time Period: Early 1970‘s to the late 1980’s

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: The Garcia family, consisting of four sisters and their parents, flee from political turmoil in the Dominican Republic to New York.  As the four sisters become more Americanized, they grow further apart not only from each other, but from their parents and their traditional ways.  Brought up in a lavish lifestyle, the family needs to learn how to endure life as the middle-class and find that all immigrants are defined in one category no matter where they come from.  Their story is told in reverse chronological order and we are taken through a journey of the sexuality of each of the sisters, their various experiences with drugs, racism, romantic relationships and differing personalities.  The tale of a clash of cultures, dreams and challenges for a family trying to fit in.

Subject Headings:  Sisters- Fiction, Dominican Americans- Fiction, Bronx- Fiction, Audiobooks, Cultural Identity- Fiction

Appeal: family epic, relationships, conflict, sexuality, cultural readjustment, several points of view, narrative, tension, crisis, tone, identity, measured, complex, introspective

3 terms that best describe this book: Coming of age, issue oriented, unembellished

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Latina Self-Portraits: Interviews with Contemporary Women Writers by Bridget Kevane and Juanita Heredia
Ten interviews with authors of Latina literature.  The writers talk about their influences, life, art and politics and their goals.  These interviews enrich a readers’ understanding of Latina literature and how it has grown over the years
English is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas by Coco Fusco
Fusco, in a series of essays, examines the works of Latina artists that have been born in the U.S. and how they relate to their culture versus their American identity.
When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago
A memoir of a Puerto Rican childhood. Santiago reflects on her life, growing up in poverty in Puerto Rico.  The story continues as Santiago’s mother moves her brood of eleven children to New York where they start a new life and Santiago goes on to fulfill her dreams.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia
The story of three generations of Cuban women, who like the Garcia girls, find
themselves in exile during the 70’s and 80’s.  Narratives, monologues and love letters
tell the story of these women.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
The story of a young Mexican-American girl, Esperanza, and her life on Mango Street
in Chicago.  Esperanza vows that one day she will leave this home and have a nice
home of her own.  The story follows her life as she grows up, finds her sexuality
and new ways of expressing herself.

Love in the Time of Chlorea by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This well-known novel revolves around a Latina character and the idea that love is
ever enduring.  Love is looked at by Garcia Marquez as a disease compared only to
the malady of cholrea.

Name: Noreen

Dying to Cross: The Worst Immigrant Tragedy in American History

April 7, 2010

Author: Jorge Ramos

Title: Dying to Cross: The Worst Immigrant Tragedy in American History (Audio)

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 208

Geographical Setting: Texas

Time Period: 21st Century

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Outside of Victoria, Texas on a hot May morning 19 people died of heat exposure, asphyxiation, and dehydration locked inside of a trailer truck. These 19 were illegal immigrants using coyote smugglers to get them over the border to start a new life in the United States. Learning of their treatment and suffering Jorge Ramos began an all-consuming project of finding out who these people were, why they so desperately wanted to get to America, the dangers that surround crossing the border illegally and immigration policies of the United States and Mexico. Using interviews with the victims’ families and survivors, personal experiences and conversations with policy makers Ramos creates a heart wrenching and informative piece. Reading his own book, the listener can almost feel the pain Ramos has over this story and issue and his passion to initiate change in the policies.

Subject Headings: Immigration, Human Trafficking, Survivor Stories, True Story

Appeal: engrossing, heart wrenching, issue-oriented, thought-provoking, outspoken, empathetic, accessible, political, vivid, character driven, first person narrative, moderate pace, somber, contemporary

3 terms that best describe this book: issue-oriented, informative, heart wrenching

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez by Richard Rodriguez: A memoir of life as a legal immigrant in America in a community filled with illegals, assimilation and embracing two cultures.

Children of Immigration by Carola SuĀirez-Orozco: After twenty years of research SuĀirez-Orozco presents her findings on life as an immigrant.

The Devil’s Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea: The story of 26 men who crossed the border on foot and their experiences once inside America.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Willow Leaf, Maple Leaf: A Novel of Immigration Blues by David Ke: An illegal immigrant living in Canada is conflicted with assimilating in to modern culture and leaving behind tradition in China.

Crossing into America: The New Literature of Immigration by Louis Mendoza & S. Shankar: Poems, fiction and memoirs of immigration from a variety of locations.

I Might Get Somewhere: Oral Histories of Immigration and Migration by Students of Balboa High School: An anthology of more than 100 stories of immigration to the US gathered and edited by students from Balboa High School in San Francisco.

Name: Michael Ann

The House on Mango Street

November 18, 2009

Author: Cisneros, Sandra

Title: The House on Mango Street

Genre: multicultural fiction

Publication Date: 1984

Geographical Setting: Chicago

Time Period: 1980s

Series: no

Plot Summary: Esperanza Cordero is an 11-year-old Mexican American girl growing up in a shabby apartment in the barrio of Chicago. She dreams of someday moving to an actual house with a yard – her version of the American dream. But first she must escape the oppressive environment around her, full of poverty, violence, fear, and disregard for women. She watches as a beloved aunt dies from illness, friends are married off before they reach eighth grade, and others stay trapped in their homes because they cannot speak English or they cannot go outside without their husband’s permission. Her only hope is to work hard in school and stay out of trouble. As a friend’s aunt reminds her, however, “When you leave, you must remember to come back for the others… you can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are.”

The book is made up of short stories and lyrical prose that tell an overall story. Written in first person, the narration is childlike, telling the stories of Esperanza’s friends, family, and neighbors through her 11-year-old eyes. Cisneros writes thoughtful descriptions of Esperanza’s colorful neighborhood and the people who live in it. The stories are told like memories—not following a linear plot. Instead, readers get an inside look at what it is like to grow up poor and Hispanic in a big city. The mood is earnest, sad, yet hopeful, with an unresolved ending that you hope turns out well.

Appeal Terms: personal, nuanced, spare, simple, nonlinear, first person narration, moving, poetic, lyrical, vivid, innocent, coming of age story, character centered, intergenerational, descriptive, urban, unpretentious, colorful, serious, thoughtful, female empowerment in a male dominated culture, inspiring, Mexican American immigrant experience, violent, set in Chicago, unresolved ending

Subject Headings: Mexican American fiction – immigrant experiencehome – memories – family and relationships – poverty – physical abuse – rape – short stories – adolescence – Latino neighborhoods of Chicago – female empowerment

Three Terms that Best Describe the Book: vivid imagery, coming-of-age story, immigrant experience

Three Nonfiction Titles:

Barrio: Photographs from Chicago’s Pilsen and Little Village by Paul D’Amato
– A collection of 90 images taken of life on the streets and in the homes of the Mexican American communities of Pilsen and Little Village.

Home: The Blueprint of Our Lives edited by John Edwards
– A collection of brief, evocative personal essays and photographs from 60 contributors—some famous, some not—about the houses they remember and family relationships.

The Latin Deli: Telling the Lives of Barrio Women by Judith Ortiz Cofer
– An autobiographical assortment of essays and poems

Three Fiction Titles:

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
– The story of four sisters who must adjust to life in America after having to flee from the Dominican Republic

Flight and Other Stories by Jose Skinner
– Realistic stories about Latinos living in the American Southwest

Migrations and Other Stories by Lisa Hernandez
– Short stories present the life, loves, and predicaments of very different Chicana women in America.

Hot Tamara

November 18, 2009

Author: Mary Castillo

Title: Hot Tamara

Genre: Latina, Romance

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 246

Geographical Setting: California

Time Period: Present Day

Series: There is a companion book entitled In Between Men

Plot Summary: From the outside it looks like Tamara has the perfect life: loving parents, perfect boyfriend, and a teaching job, but in reality Tamara is miserable. She feels like her parents are dictating her life, she doesn’t love her boyfriend anymore, and she hates her job. She surprises everyone by moving to L.A. and working in an art gallery in an attempt to get into a master’s program in museum studies, and hoping to open her own art gallery someday. While there she runs into Will, a high school classmate that she’s always had the hots for. He’s a firefighter by day and artist by night and Tamara is head over heels, but she doesn’t know how to balance her career dreams with the love of her life.

Subject Headings: Mexican American women –Fiction. Art galleries, Commercial –Employees –Fiction. Mexican American artists –Fiction. Women immigrants –Fiction. Fire fighters –Fiction. First loves –Fiction. Los Angeles (Calif.) –Fiction.

Appeal: easy, eccentric characters, engaging, quirky, character-centered, domestic, family-centered, resolved ending, sexually explicit, steamy, contemporary, urban, humorous, lighthearted, optimistic, playful, romantic, unaffected, upbeat, chatty, passionate

3 terms that best describe this book: romantic, eccentric characters, steamy

3 Relevant Fiction Titles

Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdez-Rodriguez – Six friends meet every six months to catch up (funny examination of Latina women and their love lives)

Engaging Men by Lynda Curnyn –Angie is convinced she is the warm up girlfriend as her last three exs have gotten married to their next girlfriend. (Another look at career ambitions and boyfriends)

Imaginary Man by Anjali Banerjee— Matchmaker Lina makes up a boyfriend to please her parents, but finds herself falling for the guy she based the boyfriend on (an Indian take on dealing with family and relationships)

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Titles

Wonder Woman: the Life and Times of the Amazon Princess by Les Daniels – Everything you could ever want to know about this iconic superhero (Tamara constantly wonders what Wonder Woman would do in her situation)

Latino Arts and Their Influence on the United States by Rory Makosz – explains how Latino artists have influenced U.S. pop culture (For those interested in reading more about Latino artists)

Scandals, Vandals, and DaVincis: a Gallery of Remarkable Art Tales by Harvey Rachlin – tells the back story on many famous pieces of art (For those interested in galleries and art)

Name: Elizabeth

Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child

June 24, 2009

Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child

Author: Elva Trevino Hart

Title: Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication Date: 1999

Number of Pages: 236

Geographical Setting: Texas, migrating to and from Minnesota

Time Period: 1950’s-

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Barefoot Heart is a vividly told autobiographical account of the life of a child growing up in a family of Mexican immigrants who worked as migrant workers to feed their six children. In 1953, when she was only three, her parents took the family from Texas to work in the fields of Minnesota and Wisconsin for the first time, only to find that in order to comply with the child labor law they had to leave the author and her 11-year-old sister to board in a local Catholic school, where they pined for the rest of the family. Hart remembers other years when the entire family participated in the backbreaking field labor, driven mercilessly by Apa (her father), who was determined to earn enough money to allow all his children to graduate from high school. Apa not only achieved his goal but was able to save $2000 so that Hart could enter college, a step that led to her earning a master’s degree in computer science.

Appeal: Fascinating, Triumphant, Proud, Struggle, Dignity, Beautiful, Picturesque, Driven, Elegant, Passionate, Heartfelt, Powerful, Extraordinary.

Subject Headings:

Hart, Elva Trevino

Mexican-American Women-Autobiography


Mexican Americans—Social life and customs

Migrant farm workers

Migrant farm workers-Social conditions

Boarding School students-biography

Family relationships

Poor families




3 terms that Best Describe the Book: Heartfelt, Powerful and Triumphant.

Three nonfiction titles:

Forged Under the Sun: the Life of Maria Elaena Lucas=Forjada Bajo el Sol by Maria Elena Lucas, edited and with an introduction by Fran Leeper Buss.

This is the oral history of a Chican farmworker. The story begins in Texas and follows Maria to Illinois. The narrative takes the reader through Maria’s struggles with poverty, and her involvement with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee. This also is the struggle of a women and the struggles regarding  her family.

Salaam, Stanley Matters by Subrata Dasgupta.

Arriving in Britain from Calcutta, this book is a similar migration of a child to an unfamiliar destination and the family struggle of survival and triumphs.

Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy by Carlos Eire

This novel compares to Hart’s memoir, this book tells the tale of Eire’s childhood, a survivor who describes his family’s conflicts and the impact of the Cuban Revolution on his family.

Three Fiction Titles:

Watercolor Women, Opaque Men by Ana Castillo.

This novel tells the story of migrant farm workers. Ella the main character moves to Chicago and raises her son by drawing on all her personal experiences, to be different from all the men around them.

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez.

This story takes place in Vermont where a family of Migrant Mexican Workers. Mari, the oldest daughter of her migrant family, lives in constant fear of being discovered by the authorities and sent back to the poverty they left behind in Mexico.

The Mexican Chubasco by Roberto Haro.

This is the fictional story of the Mexican Revolution seen through the eyes of a wealthy landowner. Even as a fictional tale, this is a great way to gain a little historical insight to why many Mexicans have migrated to the United States looking for a better life.

Annotation By: Allison Robins

The House on Mango Street: Latina Fiction

June 8, 2009

The House on Mango Street

Author: Sandra Cisneros
Title: The House on Mango Street
Genre: Latina/o, Short Stories
Publication Date: 1984
Number of Pages: 110p
Geographical Setting: Chicago, IL
Time Period: Unspecified, early 1980s

Plot Summary:
Told in a series of vignettes, this work relays the story of Esperanza, a young Latina girl growing up in a Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago.  The book almost reads like poetry, as Esperanza tells stories of her life, her neighbors and her family struggling to find an identity as immigrants.  Esperanza is exposed to the lives of women in her community who are afraid to leave there home because they can’t speak English, girls who are mistaking sex for love at an early age, and the pains of growing up too fast.  While it reads very quickly, vivid images of struggle, poverty and ultimately the beauty of life remain long after the book is resolved.

Subject Headings:
Hispanic Americans—Chicago, Girls—Chicago, Mexican Americans, Chicago, Short Stories.
Appeal: Vignettes, character sketches, multi-faceted, funny, measured, coming of age, wise, sorrowful, playful, memorable, cultural, youthful, musical.
3 terms that best describe this book: Vivid, colorful, heartbreaking.
Similar Authors and Works:
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Migrant Daughter: Coming of Age as a Mexican American Woman by Frances Esquibel Tywoniak (Mexican American woman’s experience in the US)
City of Dreams by Wilfredo Cruz (Latino experience in Chicago)
Harvest of Empire by Juan Gonzalez (History of Latinos in the US)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
The Woman I Kept to Myself by Julia Alvarez (Latina immigrant poetry)
Playing With Boys by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez (Modern story of 3 Latina women)
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (Coming of Age for Mexican American boy)

Katy A. Hite