Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I didn't actually re-read this one yesterday, but I have to mention it. I'd re-read it if I had time. It's another supplementary title for class that I read a while ago & earns a mention here because it rocks. It's Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Saenz, a story set in the barrio of Los Cruces, New Mexico during the Vietnam War (this isn't the Hollywood of palm trees & movie stars we're talking about!). Juliana & Sammy and their friends have few chances to get out of Hollywood, and the ones that there are - being drafted or joining the arm & getting sent to Vietnam - aren't what you would call great opportunities. This is a realistic picture of the lives of a group of teens that belong to a little explored or studied group - we've heard about the contributions of African Americans during Vietnam, but not a lot about Latinos. The story ring true because it's told by someone who lived it. It's harsh, it's dark, but it's real. Kids don't seem to be drawn to it on their own, but it would be a great books to discuss in a class. Unfortunately, some sexual content and language (I don't speak Spanish, but I'm told much of the Spanish is, well, inappropriate for a high school classroom!) will make it's use in a classroom unlikely. I reviewed this one for The Hub Weekly last year (local entertainment paper) and recommended it as a young adult book that will have a lot of appeal for adults.

Saenz, Benjamin Alire. Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos Press, 2005. ISBN 0938317814 $19.95


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