Young Adult Books
The Armor of Love and Hope. By Doris Mercado. by Yasmeen Namazie, Editor. ISBN 978-1494245993. $24.95.
This is a joint publication of Floricanto and Berkeley Presses. Doris Mercado’s memoir is one of perseverance and reconciliation, reminiscent of Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life and Ernesto Galarza’s Barrio Boy. Her story is partly one of family but also one of self-reliance, recounting her troubled childhood in Ponce, Puerto Rico and also poverty and homelessness in Massachusetts. What I most admired in the work was the author’s frankness, her ability to portray family truths so intimately and honestly. –John Paul Jaramillo, author of The House of Order Stories.
Kirkus Review: Mercado’s memoir chronicles how a middle child from a large family experiences love, forgiveness and hope despite a lifetime of abuse, neglect and abandonment in the mountains of Puerto Rico. The memoir opens with scenes of an idyllic childhood. Mercado lived in a small town outside Ponce, Puerto Rico, where her life included colorful characters in a bustling community. There were eight children at the beginning of Mercado’s story, all battling to use a single bathroom and hairbrush. Doris’ mother, Lina, worked as a seamstress. She was stern, but she encouraged 4-year-old Doris to read the newspaper.
Doris’ father was well-liked and played affectionately with the children in their chaotic but happy household. Within two years, two more boys were born into the Mercado family; both needed extensive medical attention. The strain took its toll, and finally, the family moved in with Doris’ beloved grandmother in the mountain town of Jayuya. After the move, Doris’ life deteriorated. Her mother beat her repeatedly with a broomstick, and Doris spent many days nursing badly bruised limbs. Life continued to fall apart for the Mercado clan, particularly when Doris’ paternal grandmother invited Lina and the youngest children to New York for a fresh start.
Doris and five of her siblings were left in the care of their father, although it was 14-year-old Doris who assumed chief responsibility. Within days of her mother’s departure, Doris’ father also walked out without explanation, leaving Doris and the others to fend for themselves. This living arrangement continued for another three years. Doris warned the children to keep their situation secret, so they wouldn’t alert the authorities. This profoundly sad story of neglect is told in simple, direct language. Doris’ capacity for forgiveness is astonishing, as is her single-minded focus on the love she feels for the brothers and sister left in her care. She eventually moved to the U.S., and her reunification with her parents was filled with more pain and abuse. Mercado’s reaching adulthood in one piece is remarkable; arriving with her soul intact is miraculous. A straightforward, moving story about resilience.
The Cult of Jaguar. By Bonnie Hayman. ISBN 0915745585. $25.95. HB
Centuries ago, in the darkest jungles of Mexico, a young Mayan boy named Xichantl witnessed his father and most of his tribe follow the hallowed jaguar into the Graylands, never to be seen again. Now, a divorced mother and her two daughters from the United States go to Mexico for a summer vacation and stumble upon an ancient box that transforms their lives and could change the world. Set in the sultry and mysterious jungles of Mexico, with a backdrop of Mayan calendar, pyramids, Maya prophecies(calendario Maya, pirámides y profecías), the story revolves around several interesting characters who are after the same thing-each for a different reason. What happened to the ancient native civilizations of Mexico and Central America, which disappeared without a trace? The Mayan and Aztec cultures left important archaeological sites in Middle America before their civilizations vanished from this earth. While various theories attempt to explain these phenomena, nothing definitive has been proven, yet. Hayman's The Cult of the Jaguar, deals with this fascinating mystery and offers an intriguing and plausible answer to the question, "What really happened to the Aztecs and the Mayans, and the Cult of the Jaguar?"
Esperanza: A Latina story. Sandra C. López. ISBN: 978-0-9796457-8-5. $24.95.
Fourteen-year old Esperanza Ignacio could only think of a few words to sum up her life: crap, man, crap! She was born into a poor Latino family living in a small crummy apartment in the barrio side of town, where the graffiti chiseled more the souls and character of the residents than it impacted the exterior looks of the buildings or anything else. Her father was a drunkard, gambler, and wife-beater who, one cold night, got arrested after a violent intrusion. Her entire circle of relatives consisted of nothing but formers—former drug-addicts, former gangsters and gang-bangers, former alcoholics, former everything. Yep, her life was nothing but a huge load of crap. And she hadn’t even started high school yet. After surviving a scorching summer heat, Esperanza enters the unfamiliar world of high-school with a tight knot in her stomach. On the very first day, she is sucked into a blunder of catastrophic events beginning with accidentally running into the world’s BIGGEST bully. And it definitely wasn’t an understatement either. Now, she has made herself the prime target for a main course. And, to top it all off, she has to see this girl everyday in P.E.! P.E.—the one class Esperanza truly despises the most. Could life be any worse for her?
La Picardía Chicana: Latino Folk Humor. Folklore Latino Jocoso. José R. Reyna. Edited by Andrea Alessandra Cabello, M. D., with the Assistance of Gloria Canales. ISBN: 0-915745-42-9. $23.95.
Mexican American, Chicano folk literature has been of interest to folklorists and been collected incidentally, mostly as part of compilations of the longer and more prestigious standard folktale. José Reyna began his collection of jokes 1969, and some of the jokes compiled then, appeared in Stanley L. Robe’s Antología del Saber Popular . Picardía Chicana, the result of thirty years of work, contains five hundred twenty-six jokes which are reproduced here verbatim from tape recordings collected in the field. Some jokes were collected by the author as field research projects at Texas A & M University-Kingsville [1972-77] and at the University of New Mexico [1977-1984]. Others are synopses of jokes that Dr. Reyna learned over the years and took the liberty of translating to English for presentation here. Other terms used for this subject are Latino folklore. Latino jokes. Latino folk humor. Folklore Latino. Folclor latino. Mexican American Folk humor.
This book represents the best of Mexican American joke tradition. The title Picardía Chicana was selected in keeping with a well-known sixteenth-century Hispanic tradition of El Lazarillo de Tormes published originally in 1554, which spawned a new literary genre—la novela picaresca. Both the pícaro and the novela picaresca would surface in the New World—in Mexico—in the early nineteenth century (José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi, El Periquillo Sarniento).
A Most Memorable Quinceañera. Una Quinceañera Muy Memorable. LeslieConcepción. ISBN: 978-1494253776 $14.95
This is a publication of Floricanto Press. “Saying goodbye to childhood is never easy.” The magical day, when a girl can play out her own fairytale fantasy and be a princess for a day, is her Quinceañera, and for Mimi that day has finally arrived. But instead of the excitement and jubilation she is expected to feel, all she can summon is uneasy dread and anxiety about what this day means. Her parents have been planning this event her whole life and Mimi is filled with the weight of their expectations, to act like a proper lady and know what to do. She doesn't know what to do and can’t comprehend how an archaic ceremony can change the way people see her, and how she could be a woman just because the calendar marks her a day older. Mimi doesn’t want people to treat her differently and no amount of rehearsing can mask the insecurities she feels. To make matters worse her cousin, Lala, picks the day of Mimi's Quinceañera to reveal she is pregnant, and it's only been a year after her very own Quinceañera. Mimi is distraught and believes that is what happens when parents, family, and society, rush a girl into womanhood. This is all the more reason for Mimi not to accept the tradition of publically becoming a woman.
This is a coming of age story about two cousins, who are the best of friends. While her cousin, Lala is thrilled to enter womanhood, Mimi is not so enthusiastic and doesn’t feel she is ready for all the social responsibilities that come along with being a woman. The girls will learn to stick together and that the bond between family is stronger than any rite of passage. A very elaborate descriptive and story about the conflicts and tribulations in a young girls’ life as she enters womanhood. Everyone needs a Tia Emmi in their life. By Judy Paneto-Roman
Great book about the the Quinceañera culture. As a mom of a soon to be teenager, I will pass down this book to my daughter so that she can learn about the culture and the importance of family. Jessica Cortez
A most memorable story I was quickly captivated by this story, as I can certainly relate to all the drama and prepping that goes into planning "Sweet 15" Quinceañera it's something we all look forward to when coming of age, Leslie's story is definitely something I would hand my daughter prior to her Quinceañera. Veronica Paneto Mimi’s character transported me back to a time in my life where I was caught between innocence and the impending “Real” world. Her struggle is personal and heartwarmingly portrayed and I was easily wrapped up in the story. Deborah Rosa, MA
Noldo and his Magical Scooter at the Battle of The Alamo=Noldo y su patinete mágico en la Batalla de El Álamo. By Armando Rendón. ISBN 978-1490428659. $14.95.
Noldo is a Mexican-American boy, who, after building his own scooter from scraps, is magically transported from 1950’s San Antonio, Texas, into the middle of of the Battle of the Alamo, where he befriends a lad who lived more than a hundred years earlier. He lives through hard times, making do with very little. The story forges a link for Chicanos to their historical roots in the Southwest, revealing a past that has been otherwise excluded from school textbooks and the mass media. Noldo es un chico mexicoamericano, quien, después de construir su propio patinete de materiales de desecho, es mágicamente transportado del San Antonio de los años 50’s a la Batalla de el Álamo, en donde se hace amigo de un muchacho que había vivido más que cien años antes.
Él vive aquellos tiempos tan difíciles, siendo muy creativo con lo poco que tiene. La historia tiende un puente que va desde los chicanos de hoy día hasta sus raíces históricas en el Suroeste, revelándonos una historia que ha sido excluida de los libros de texto y de los medios de comunicación. Armando Rendón grew up in the Westside barrio of San Antonio, Texas, and much of our hero’s story and background sounds a lot like the life and times of the author. Armando moved to California in 1950 and lives near Berkeley with his wife, Helen. He authored Chicano Manifesto, the first book about Chicanos by a Chicano, in 1971. He is also the founder and editor of the online literary magazine, Somos en escrito, which he launched in November 2009.
Armando Rendón creció en el barrio del oeste de San Antonio, Tejas, y gran parte de la historia de su héroe y de su ambiente semejan bastante la vida y la época de su autor. Armando se mudó a California en 1950, vive en Berkeley, California, con su esposa, Helen. Armando es autor del Chicano Manifesto, el primer libro sobre los chicanos escrito por un chicano, en 1971. Es fundador y editor de la revista cibernética, Somos en escrito, creada en noviembre de 2009.
Oro, Incienso y Mirra. By Ariel González Calzada. ISBN: 978-1-888205-40-4. $9.50.
Cuando le dije a mi esposa que "Oro, Incienso y Mirra" era un libro tanto para niños como para aquellos chiquillos de antaño que ahora son viejos ella sonrió dejándome desconcertado. He aquí el por qué de mi confusión: José, Patricia, y Pablo son tres niños que, como tantos en el mundo, sufren las consecuencias de una sociedad desigual. Sumergidos en sus universos de contradicciones ven por primera vez un árbol de navidad. Les pareció mágico.
Siguiendo su rastro conocen a Rocío del Valle, una anciana que, medio siglo atrás, había sido una actriz famosa, sin embargo, ahora estaba abandonada. Junto a ella descubren a un Dios que, a pesar de estar prohibido, los ama. Aprenden que trabajar por amor es mejor que por dinero; y que, aunque no tengan nada, son tan importantes y únicos como aquellos que lo tienen todo ¡Un momento! Pensándolo mejor, ya entiendo para quienes escribí este libro: para los viejos que, víctimas de la sociedad, no pudieron ser niños, y para los niños que, por el mismo motivo, nunca llegaran a ser viejos.
Por la Calle North Claremont: Beto Stories. By Adolfo Butch Cárdenas. Edited by Yasmeen Namazie and Genevieve Miller. ISBN 978-1481182911. $22.95.
In a world of literacy education where Hispanic literature is still a rarity, Por la Calle North Claremont: Beto Stories are a gem in that it will provide students with the confidence to see the importance of their own childhood experiences. Students can read this book knowing that Hispanic literature does not have to portray children in worlds of poverty with barrios full of unloving parents, racial turmoil, rampant crime, dog-eat-dog politics, and other hopeless situations. The author provides children with the hope of living a life with the same good natured character Beto encourages, and he also gives voice to those of us who grew up in happy homes, with loving parents and good friends. Of course, the book is true to reality in that Beto does experience the usual turmoil many children face such as not always getting everything he wants, stressful school relations, family disputes and corporal punishment. Yet, Beto ends up okay with the help of those who at times drive him crazy, yet love him always—his friends and family. The book’s ending will also leave students wondering what happens next to Beto as he grows into a fine young man, always honest, loyal, responsible, and fun-loving.