Our next good read. . .Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood

Vamos a Leer is back! Join us August 6th at Bookworks from 5:00-7:00 to discuss our first book of the 2012-2013 school year.  We are reading Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.   It’s quite an amazing novel set in Las Cruces, New Mexico–our home state.   Here’s a sneak peek into the book. . .

The Hollywood where Sammy Santos and Juliana Ríos live is not the one on the West Coast, the one with all the glitz and glitter. This Hollywood is a tough barrio at the edges of a small town in southern New Mexico. The year is 1969 and Sammy and his fellow citizens of Hollywood attend Las Cruces High School where they face a world of racism, dress codes, the war in Vietnam and the everyday violence of their own barrio. In the summer before his senior year begins, Sammy falls in love with Juliana, a girl whose tough veneer disguises a world of hurt.

In Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, Benjamin Alire Sáenz captures the essence of what it meant to grow up Chicano in Small town America in the late 1960s. He creates a cast of characters that embody humor, toughness, innocence and survival—and in doing so, he evokes the bitter-sweet ambience found in such novels as Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show.” (Taken from http://www.cincopuntos.com/products_detail.sstg?id=85).

We hope to see you there!


11 thoughts on “Our next good read. . .Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood

  1. I would LOVE to attend! Is it possible to receive a copy of the book? I am excited to get back to your seminars. They will be extreemly useful this year with my Middle School students.

    • So excited that you’re interested in the book! We are doing book give aways again–all you have to do is post on the blog (which you’ve already done) and your name goes in a drawing for the book! The deadline for posting is this Friday, July 20th, so we’ll let you know ASAP after Friday if you got a book!
      Hope to see you on August 6th! We’re looking forward to getting the school year started.

  2. This story sounds like it will give a nice insight into small town chicana life. I grew up in a small new Mexican town so I am very excited to see how their lives were before my time, in a small town like mine.

    • I really loved this book–it’s at the top of my list for all time favorites now. I think it offers a very moving portrait of small town life in the late 1960s. I’m not from New Mexico though, so it will be really interesting to hear what you think about the book. I hope you enjoy it. You’ll have to let us know!

  3. Hi Katrina,

    I’m moving to high school and looking for great material. This book sounds like it might work. I’m really looking forward to getting back to our group.
    I haven’t forgotten your pictures and will try to get them to you this week.


    • Hi Florence! Wow!! What an exciting change–high school!! I can’t wait to hear more about it! I definitely think this is a great book for high school–even if you can’t use the entire thing, you could do a lot with just certain sections of it. It’s a sad book, but I loved it–I can’t wait to hear what others think about it at our book group meeting. No rush on the pictures–just bring them to one of our book group meetings, certainly don’t make a special trip over to campus. I hope that your summer is going well and you’ve actually gotten to relax!

  4. Hola, as a fifth grade teacher, I would love to have a class to read a loud in class regarding the chicano lifestyle and struggles. this year I am starting with an african american story but by november would love to introduce Sammy and Juliana. It is appropriate for this age, right?

    • Hi! I’m so glad you’re interested in this book–as you’ve probably read, it’s one of my new favorites. That said, I’m not sure I would recommend this book–at least in its entirety–for a 5th grade class. I’ve taught 3rd and 5th grade, and I think there are parts that I could see my elementary students really engaging in, but there are other parts that might be too much for them to handle. I’ll be posting my review of the book next week, so that should give you a better idea, and hopefully you’ll get a chance to read the book–I’d love to hear what you think of it. Later in the year (I think for the November book group) we’re reading The Circuit–that one may be a better read for 5th graders.

  5. Benjamin Alire Saenz is one of my favorite authors. I look forward to discussing this book with other readers of Chicana/o literature, or of any literature, for that manner. I’ve taught Saenz’s poetry in a university class, but have never had the occasion to discuss his prose with other readers.

    • Really looking forward to hearing what you think about Sammy & Juliana! This novel is my first experience with Saenz, and I loved it. In the Educator’s Guide we’re just finishing up to go with the book, I’m linking to some videos of poetry readings by Saenz, so hopefully students will get to see and hear that aspect of his work as well.

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