Fifteen-year-old Rico Fuentes, who refers to himself as the “palest Cubano who ever existed on the planet,” feels impelled by circumstances involving drugs, truancy and family to flee Harlem for Wisconsin; it’s the 1960s and his good friend Roberto, a lottery winner, is attending college and has rented a farm nearby. Hijuelos, who won the Pulitzer Prize for The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989), explores issues of race, identity, prejudice and outsiderness in his affectionately written, sometimes raw teen debut. Smart, confused, a good-hearted bookworm from the ghetto who feels an affinity with Huck Finn and writes imaginative comic-book superhero stories, Rico ultimately comes to see that “where you are doesn’t change who you are.” In spite of several graphic scenes dealing with drugs and violence, this novel is very much geared to young adults; indeed, it sometimes seems as if the author is trying to pack in too much advice, making for a somewhat loose narrative. Even so, young readers will genuinely care about Rico and be carried along on his journey of discovery.
It looks like another interesting read–a great addition to any personal or classroom library! To be entered in the giveaway, just comment on any post on the blog by January 30. Everyone who comments between December 6 and January 30 will be entered in the drawing. If your name is chosen, we’ll email you ASAP about mailing the book to you.
Don’t forget, we also raffle off a copy of the following month’s featured novel at each book group meeting. So if you’re an Albuquerque local, join us for a chance to win!