Customer Reviews: Chulito: A Novel
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on February 29, 2012
Chulito is a hoodrat. Born and raised in the South Bronx. A beautiful 16 year old boy who grew up in the streets of his neighborhood and lives by the rules of that small world.

Carlos, was Chulito's best friend while they were boys, and later when they got a little older Chulito realized that he maybe felt more than just friendly towards Carlos.

But Carlos is an outsider now. He has left the Hood, and gone to Long Island for college. He is also openly gay. Those two things put Chulito and Carlos in two worlds so distant they might as well be in different planets.

Chulito's life revolves around hanging out on the corner with the Fellas, running drugs for his best friend Kamikaze, the local TOP DOG, and being the hardest thug he can be. He dropped out of high school, and all his ambitions pretty much lie within whatever is confined to his block and the people in it.

The only thing that Chulito can't do is not be friends with Carlos, he misses him. Wants to reconnect with his boy, so he makes a move to get in touch with Carlos, and ends up being surprised by his friend coming back to the Hood for the whole summer.

This book was SET SO PERFECTLY. The author captured the sub-culture so well, and not just of the NYC, but of the Latin communities, especially Neuyoricans and Dominican Yorks. It's such an insular world. Comes from immigrant generations that preferred staying up there in Washington Heights, Harlem or The Bronx where everyone spoke their language, ate their foods, listened to their music, knew their history, their culture, and most importantly UNDERSTOOD why it was preferable to come to the United States to the ghetto than remain in a homeland that had nothing to offer. Even if the memory of that homeland is something so large and painful that it's present in everything the do.

He captured, The Hood and its cycles of poverty, and outdated views on gender roles, who men and women should be or act like. These attitudes can entrap many kids, wanting MORE or wanting DIFFERENT, whether it is ambition to move elsewhere, being open about your sexuality, daring to demand respect as a woman, or show vulnerabilities as a man, cannot only make you an outcast it can make you a target. But he also showed the love and support that exists in those neighborhoods, strong loyalty and such a deep understanding of each other.

We understood all the contradictions of that world. Who Chulito was, and his yearning for something more that the Hood, but also his loyalty to the neighborhood that has been his whole world. Carlos' need to leave it, but also feeling pulled back by those he loves that are still there. The women in the neighborhood and how they cope with hard lives, the lack of aspirations and ambitions and posturing of the men. The trials that those who dare to be different have to endure. All SPOT ON.

I know that for some readers Chulito and Carlos will be strange characters, they seem so much more mature than their age. It is strange it's true, but kids like Chulito and Carlos grow up fast and hard. It is rough living with no daddies, hustling to make a living, mothers that care but have to work hard to provide fortheir kids. There are too many harsh realities everywhere in places like Chulito's world.

THE VERY BEST thing about this book are Chulito and Carlos. What a JOY is was to watch them fall in love. To see Chulito discover a whole world outside of the Bronx. I just loved them. They were so open, so hopeful and brave to be who they were, despite a more than hostile environment.

There were too many things I loved about this book, it's worth reading if only to get a glimpse at a slice of American life that people rarely get to read about, especially from the perspective of young gay men.

Chulito and Carlos were TRAILBLAZERS, I wish that every boy like them could find a way to love and be loved openly like they did.

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on March 9, 2012
Never mind 5 stars- this is one of the best books I've ever read, period. As soon as I finished it I kept flipping pages, hoping for more (the only con is the slight formatting gaffe at the end- the kindle edition goes right into the author acknowledgements). Sure, the book leans towards unrealistically happy (who has a boyfriend as wonderful as carlos? Where the heck can I find eye candy like brick, Damian and lee? Lol) but the writing, story, characters, everything was just outstanding. I will be buying a paper copy as well just so that people can see it on my bookshelf and borrow it, and so I can lend it out. I cannot say enough about this book. It had humor, angst, heart, an insane amount of tension (both sexual and dramatic- one scene had me clutching my iPad and screaming at the book) this was just fantastic. This should be on school reading lists, though it goes far beyond YA. fiction I just feel everyone should read this book lol.
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on December 11, 2014
The name of the book that I’m reviewing is Chulito: A Novel by Charles Rice-Gonzalez. The author is originally from Puerto Rico and grew up in the Bronx. Rice-Gonzalez is an LGBT activist. This book is amazing. It will take the reader through an emotional roller-coaster ride. This book opened my eyes to the struggle that the LGBT community has to encounter, especially being Latino. I could barely put the book down since the story is so engaging. I loved the language level of the book; it was understandable and easy to read and comprehend.
In this novel, we meet the main character named Chulito, who battles with his suppressed feelings for a lifetime friend named Carlos. They grew up in Hunts Point, a rough neighborhood in the Bronx. In this Puerto Rican community men were expected to behave rough and like macho man. Chulito grew up acting this way. He would put up the macho man act to disguise his true self. As Chulito and Carlos engaged in a secretive romantic relationship, it was very hard for Chulito to open up. The fear that the fellas in the neighborhood could find out that Chulito was guy scared him to death. On the contrary, Carlos was open about his sexuality even though he was teased and bullied. After their romantic relationship had grown deeper Chulito found the courage to reveal who he truly was to everyone in the neighborhood. After a physical altercation with Papo a friend that turned on him and got out of the drug dealing game, Chulito and Carlos finally got to enjoy their love in public.
There were different statements that the author touched on. The first one was peer pressure. Chulito grew up in Puerto Rican Community were man had to be macho and tough. Chulito found himself acting like a total different person than who he truly was. In certain sections of the book, he would complement the girls in his neighborhood to play it off. The scene was Chulito lost his virginity with a prostitute and Kamikaze, supports this argument. Chulito felt obligated to engage in a sexual activity that he didn’t want to be in. In that community, the fellas from the block played a huge part in Chulito’s fear to come out of the closet.
Another statement I believe the author tried to make was just plain true love. This novel is about two people that passionately love each other. The way the author described the love between Chulito and Carlos was just as any other typical love story. The only difference was that instead of being a boy and a girl it was a boy and a boy. Towards the end of the book, my heart melted when Chulito’s love for Carlos was stronger than what anybody’s opinion. Chulito found the courage to tell the world who he really is. After having his relationship with Carlos in the open, he felt liberated and freed from the game he was playing. Such a pure and beautiful love that they felt for one another.
Another statement was family and friendship. I felt like the author showed the hardship a person in Chulito’s situation might have to encounter. On the contrary, the author has characters like Brick, Julio, Putin, Carlo’s mother and Carlo’s friends from the Village to convey that there will also be people along the path that will support you. This book is destined to an audience of people that maybe be going through a situation like this. But also for the reader that might not be in this situation to have an insight about the struggle that the LGBT community has to go through.
In conclusion, I loved this book. I will encourage people to read it. I have already recommended it to a few of my friends that can relate to the book. I think this book has a very strong message. The topics in this book need to be shared and more books like this one need to be published to help break this taboo. Is the first time I get to read a book like this and I loved it. This book has changed my perspective and made me appreciate the strength of the LGBT community more. I feel like this book should be shared. I gave mines to a special friend that will enjoy it, and I hope that it will help him in his personal struggle.
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on January 15, 2012
Chulito is a 15 year old Puerto Rican high school dropout, who is right at home among the hip-hop-loving, macho, "anything to survive" neighbors in a tough section of the Bronx. Growing up, he was close to Carlos, who - like himself - lived with a single mother in the same building, although he has grown apart from Carlos - who finished high school and is now attending college on Long Island - primarily because he is perceived as being gay. Chulito starts making good money as a helper to a local drug dealer, but is disturbed by reoccurring feelings he still has for Carlos. Chulito knows that any attempt at reconciliation could create a dangerous situation for both of them, and perhaps others.

The author presents an outstanding coming-out / coming-of-age story, told with realistic emotion and colorful characters, including straight allies of the couple. It perfectly captures the differences in atmosphere and attitudes within the boroughs of New York City, and how one's heritage and upbringing can affect a person's tolerance and beliefs. Bravo, and much recommended. Five stars out of five.

- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
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on May 18, 2012
As a Bronx resident myself reading this book put me on the 6 train and reminding me of the smells and people of the Hunts Point Area, this book discribed head on the things gay Latinos go through in the hood at times I was seeing myself in the book and felt it was a story I've heard over and over from other gay friends. This is The best book in my opinion of the year I hope Chulito and Carlos live a long happy life together
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on August 16, 2012
Charles Rice-Gonzalez brought to life a world I am totally unfamiliar with in his novel "Chulito". I'm not referring to gay life, but that of the inner-city culture-specific neighborhoods. Written in everyday English, but blended with Spanish phrases, slang of the hip-hop generation, drug culture and "macho" hierarchy, I was invited into the hood! We get glimpses of it from TV shows, like "Law & Order SVU", but we get to feel it in "Chulito".

It's tough enough to be an ethnic minority, but mix in a more stigmatizing label of "gay", and life can be hell. We witness the true fear behind homophobia, and the importance of courage. When it comes to fighting for survival of dignity, you will cheer with Chulito as he breaks loose to defend those he cares about, including himself. The cast of characters is rich in diversity, some I loved to love, others I loved to hate. What I loved most was the honesty of it all.

I don't have to learn heart; I know it when I feel it. Charles has heart! This is an easy, fast-flowing story that caused me to lose sleep, because I was so entrenched. The periodic print flaw proves that we can never have too many edits, yet none distracted from the story. You will want this book on your shelf, and in your e-book library. I have both.
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Charles Rice-González has established himself as a communicator in journalism, as playwright, an expert in Latino culture in film, poetry, and theater and as an activist for LGBT rights. His background is both Puerto Rican and the Bronx and all of this background comes pouring through this excellent novel CHULITO.

Rice-González writes with a thorough comprehension of the lingo and the mannerisms of the characters that populate this book - a factor that not only adds to the credibility of the story he has spun but makes his characters multidimensional instead of the stereotypes that too frequently figure in stories form the streets like this one. Chulito is a handsome young Puerto Rican lad whose best friend since childhood has been Carlos, a boy who has more advantages than Chulito. As Carlos leaves the hood for studies in school he is perceived as effeminate and Chulito discovers aspects of his feelings for Carlos that take the course of the book to fully develop. In short it is a coming of age story as well as a coming out story and both aspects of the tale are so well defined by Rice-González that this book is rapidly becoming a classic in the short time since it was published.

Charles Rice-González seems destined to become an even more important figure in the world of words with this his first novel. Expect more - he always delivers. Grady Harp, July 12
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on June 14, 2014
The novel captures the gritty feel of the neighborhood and depicts the people living in it fairly and unsentimentally. The author also shows us there are many New York Cities in New York City. Chulito himself is drawn from life, and though the names varied, I knew people who went through the same struggle. Yes, there's explicit sex in this book, but it is never apart from the story, but moves it forward. If you want a bird's eye view of life in the Big Apple, you could do a lot worse than Chulito.
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on September 18, 2012
while i grew up in new york city, i know nothing about the south bronx. so this was like uncharted territory for me.

chuilto and carlos were boyhood friends but when the story starts - carlos is the college boy back in the barrio for his summer vacation, and chulito (cutie) the gangsta, is hanging out on the street corner with his friends going noplace fast.

carlos is gay, and out, so everytime he leaves his building he has to put up with razing from the guys on the corner, especially chulito.

chulito wants to rekindle their friendship but knows if the guys see him hanging out with carlos, or god-forbid leaving the building together, it is guilt by association.

they eventually figure it out. having lots of FUN!! in the process.

and i had fun reading this story of teenagers trying to find their way.
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on June 12, 2014
When I first saw this book I wasn't sure if it was worth reading. But after getting it and reading the first few pages I was drawn into it completely. It really is a novel, alot of pages but not overwhelming and there is always something new happening which keeps you interested. I felt the author wrote a realistic story that you could possibly see in a neighborhood today. The characters all felt authentic and real, and the relationships drew you into the story even more. Was very impressed by this and glad to see a latin setting for a gay novel
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