From Publishers Weekly
This moving memoir of a young Chicano boy's maturing into a self-accepting gay adult is a beautifully executed portrait of the experience of being gay, Chicano and poor in the United States. Now an associate professor of English and Latino studies at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Gonzalez writes in a poetic yet straightforward style that heightens the power of his story (mariposa
is Spanish for "faggot" as well as butterfly). As he describes growing up in an extended migrant-worker family, his youth in Bakersfield, Calif., and his departure for college, some readers may recognize similar characters and situations from his 2003 novel, Crossing Vines
(University of Oklahoma). Like other gay coming-of-age memoirs, this one recounts the hardship of being an effeminate youth with a high singing voice and a penchant for cross-dressing, and the delight in discovering the homoeroticism of classic literature by Melville and E.M. Forster. But Gonzalez transforms these standard conceits into an affecting narrative in which his class and ethnic identities are as vital as his often painful metamorphosis into a fully formed gay man. (Sept.)
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*Starred Review* In the tradition of Richard Rodriguez, this stirring memoir of a first-generation Mexican American's coming-of-age and coming out is wrenching, angry, passionate, ironic, and always eloquent about conflicts of family, class, and sexuality. The son and grandson of farmworkers, constantly moving between Mexico and the U.S., then and now, Gonzalez weaves together three narrative threads: his angry present journey across the border with his estranged father; childhood memories of growing up as a fat, bookish "sissy-boy"; and his urgent longing now for his sexy, abusive older lover. As a child, he was whipped for dressing in the clothes of the mother he loved, but he could not stop his girlish behavior or his furious desire for other males. He remembers hunger (and how it later led to his overeating) and overcrowding and his escape into books. The first in his family to graduate from high school, he may be the innocent immigrant when his mostly white college class talks about weekends at the beach and other mysterious pastimes, but he has lived through traumatic separation they know nothing about. An unforgettable story of leaving home today. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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