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An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio Hardcover – March 1, 1995

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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"Salt to the Sea" by Ruta Sepetys
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cofer's (Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood) 12 consistently sparkling, sharp short stories pungently recreate the atmosphere of a Puerto Rican barrio in Paterson, N.J. A different teenager is the focus of each entry, but the characters and the settings throughout are linked, often to great effect. In the poignant "Don Jose of La Mancha," Yolanda observes both critically and sympathetically as her widowed mother gingerly approaches a new relationship-with a man Yolanda considers a clueless hick; the reader has previously met Yolanda in "The One Who Watches," in which Yolanda's friend Doris describes the fear and anger she experiences as Yolanda goes shoplifting. In the surreally horrifying "Matoa's Mirror," Kenny gets high on a mixture of drugs and then watches himself in a mirror, as if he's on TV, while he is getting beaten up outside his building. The overarching theme-the struggle to transcend one's roots but never succeeding (nor really wanting to)-is explored with enormous humanity and humor. This fine collection may draw special attention for its depictions of an ethnic group underserved by YA writers, but Cofer's strong writing warrants a close look no matter what the topic. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-12. "Dating is not a concept adults in our barrio really get." The contemporary teenage voices are candid, funny, weary, and irreverent in these stories about immigrant kids caught between their Puerto Rican families and the pull and push of the American dream. The young people hang out on the street in front of the tenement El Building in Paterson, New Jersey, where the radios are always turned full blast to the Spanish station and the thin walls can't hold the dramas of the real-life telenovelas. As in her autobiographical adult collection Silent Dancing (1990), Cofer depicts a diverse neighborhood that's warm, vital, and nurturing, and that can be hell if you don't fit in. Some of the best stories are about those who try to leave. Each piece stands alone with its own inner structure, but the stories also gain from each other, and characters reappear in major and minor roles. The teen narrators sometimes sound too articulate, their metaphors overexplained, but no neat resolutions are offered, and the metaphor can get it just right (the people next door "could be either fighting or dancing"). Between the generations, there is tenderness and anger, sometimes shame. In one story, a teenage girl despises the newcomer just arrived from the island, but to her widowed mother, the hick (jibaro) represents all she's homesick for. Raul Colon's glowing cover captures what's best about this collection: the sense of the individual in the pulsing, crowded street. Hazel Rochman
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic; First Edition edition (March 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0531068978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0531068977
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,309,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Critically acclaimed and widely published poet, novelist, and essayist Judith Ortiz Cofer knows that "words have the power to transform you and give you the power to shape your life. The minute you open your mouth, you have introduced yourself." Writing extensively about the experience of being Puerto Rican and her identity as a woman and writer in the U.S., she is a lauded Regents and Franklin Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Georgia where she teaches literature and creative writing.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Life in a Puerto Rican barrio has its ups and downs. The community is close-knit, but the money is scarce.

With bad influences in the forms of peers, pressure from boyfriends, and the loss of friends, things can get difficult. Each teen has their own way of dealing with things - and this is a book of their stories.

An eye-opening collection of short stories that doesn't put rose-colored glasses on the reality of at-risk teenagers. The stories are believable and touching, the teens in the book are easy to relate to, and the author does a great job of painting the small-town barrio.

Readers who like realistic fiction and books with stories told by teens will enjoy reading this book.

Reviewed by: Kira M
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
this book is required for my class
omg wat can i said about this book
this book is just so amazing
and the last story was impressing
it was sweet and sad at the same time
i just couldn't seem to put the book down til i reach to the end of the book
but this book is really interesting for me to read
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I enjoyed this novel thought I do wish is had been full novel rather than simply a group of short stories. I would have liked to have known more about Rita and those kids we didn't visit again.
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It was moving but inconclusive.
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School deal.
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