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Showing 1-10 of 268 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 312 reviews
on November 4, 2012
Martinez's book is about a young family born into the unique clash of cultures in South Texas where the children must learn to consolidate their cultures. Their family gives them the understanding that being American/white/speaking English is superior to being Mexican/speaking Spanish and are callous and manipulative when the author does not adhere to the horrid machismo customs that they associate with being men, not with being Mexican. These themes are likely familiar to those growing up in South Texas, but the author was born in the exact circumstances that would exaggerate these problems for him - lack of power balance between the parents, young family, poor, being introspective, being male.

I highly recommend this book for anyone. Some of his experiences are potent, but he is so good at providing relevant events from his childhood, that you come to understand, and even predict, the actions he will take next, even if they wouldn't be your own. I found myself cheering him on but understanding why he would sometimes falter.

Mr. Martinez is introspective, even at an early age, which puts the reader in his head during some pretty substantial events. He allows you to understand his experiences and the conflict between knowing what is best and his own impulses. Also, he's pretty funny. He unexpectedly made me laugh out loud like three or four times.

I read this thing in less than two days. I usually enjoy reading Mexican-American literature, but I find that the themes usually center around the differences/problems between Mexican-Americans and whites or the rest of the US. This book is about how uniquely, exquisitely messed up the cultural niche in South Texas will make you - not because you don't get how to be American and Mexican at the same time, but because your elders or the people responsible for you don't get it.

Read this book if you are curious about a crazy-ass culture right here in the United States. Read it if you enjoy memoirs. Read it if you like a casual style that is meant to be understood and not intimidate. If you're from South Texas, read it to confirm that yes, all the kids you go to school with are Mexican and eat tamales at Christmas even if nobody ever talks about it, it's not just you.
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on August 22, 2012
Domingo Martinez takes us into a world that I have never visited before - nor even knew existed. The story of his growing up is equal measure hilarious and heartbreaking. This story is the "Angela's Ashes" of the barrio. I felt as if Mr.Martinez was in my living room because of his accessible and conversational tone. But so many phrases leapt out at me, making me smile at the turn of words. Lucky for us, Domingo survived his childhood with a keen sense of humor, in fact one must assume that helped him survive! This book is a remarkable first work and one that explores an important part of our American culture, heretofore, almost unknown.
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on November 19, 2012
I grew up in Idaho and this is my story. Macho attitudes live large in rural communities. We are a total white community that had families of five or more children. Farmers didn't need to import outsides workers in that environment. Young, macho and and what we called environmentally stupid. I thought that the story of the sisters getting all the attention and money hit home the best but, the story hit my home in so many ways.
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on September 21, 2012
He has such a unique style that's perfect for memoir. There's a lot of wit here even when he's describing grim things. So so interesting
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on June 11, 2013
This started out well but really needed some editing. The first third was interesting and flowed okay - maybe they stopped editing there thinking people would be hooked at that point. At the end of the book you find out that the book was based on his blog. It needed some serious editing to go from blog posts to a book which needs to flow from chapter to chapter. We selected this for book club but I was the only one that made it all the way through. Disappointing, especially since it was recommended by NPR. The premise of the story was interesting, but overall the book sounded like a series of therapy assignments.
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on November 5, 2012
I always enjoy understanding nuances of cultures with which I am not completely familiar. Given the numerous articles about our border problems with Mexico, I decided to read this book. It is excellent! I understand actions and attitudes that had puzzled me. You will feel as if you are a real insider. I highly recommend this book.
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on April 11, 2015
I loved this book. I like reading non-fiction and historical fiction set in places we visit while traveling around this once-great nation. This author really does a nice job of telling what it was like to be a poor, smart Mexican kid growing up in Brownsville. For a first-time author, he has flashes of absolute brilliance. At times I thought I was reading a John Irving or John Grisham book. I recommend the book highly.
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on July 20, 2013
I did enjoy reading this memoir. It was insightful into a world I know very little about. But after reading the work I felt I had more questions than answers. Of course, it's a memoir, the conventional presentation is to "tell it like it is." There are so many powerful anecdotes with vivid portrayals of family members and friends, but what made the biggest impact on me were the occasional commentaries on social structure and praxis, brief moments of analysis. These moments rounded out the anecdotes and situated the personal history for me. Because they were few, the entire work fell a little flat in the end.
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on September 20, 2013
My family is from the RG valley and as a child I loved going down (from Chicago) to visit all our relatives every year at Christmas. I think he had a very dysfunctional family life which is why he needed to get away and find something else or some meaning to his life. It is very sad, but unfortunately true for him. He paints a very unflattering picture of the valley and Texas in general, but I don't think this was or is the case for everyone from down there. Many of my cousins are very successful and happy and returned back to Texas after leaving for school or other jobs. My parents and a brother are buried in Alamo, as that was my fathers wish to be buried in his birth place. I also have two sisters that have move from here to Texas. As an adult now I still continue to visit family when I can, and the valley will always hold a very special place in my heart. I'm very happy that Domingo has become very successful and look forward to more of his writings.
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on May 18, 2013
This memoir of growing up in poverty in a Texas border town got my attention early on and never let go. In this reflection of his own upbringing, the author paints vivid portraits of family members and friends and their places in the local culture, seen from the vantage of his own shifting impressions of them as he grows up. His sometimes harrowing tales of childhood in this Mexican-American town are compelling. The core of the book is the author's evolving insight into his identity and role in the world, his struggle to find and realize himself as he grows up, an effort that is still a work in progress. His depictions of himself and others are at times contradictory and unresolved, as when someone is looking at something at such close range that the shape as a whole isn't clearly outlined and the details sometimes seem contradictory. But that flaw of confusion bespeaks the honesty with which he tells his tale. After all, who among us can give a truly consistent and unambivalent account of, for example, our parents and our feelings of them throughout the years as our relationships with them and with ourselves change through the passage of time? By the end of the book, rather than being presented with a neatly concluded package the reader sees the author as someone whose search for himself continues.
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