Lorenzo Walker Tech HS & Institute of Tech

Friday, February 23, 2007

Off the Shelf 0607-12

Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida
By Victor Martinez
© 1998

This National Book Award and Pura Belpre Award winner is about a fourteen-year-old boy struggling to be a “vato firme, the kind of guy people respect” amidst a gang-infested neighborhood. The pull of the gang surrounds him via his peer relationships and the lack of guidance from his abusive father and his unemployed older brother. But there is something inside Manny that keeps pushing him away from this lifestyle, as well. Will he join?

The storyline of this book is motivation enough for reading, but it is further enhanced by descriptive writing that paints the picture of this adolescent’s search for identity and self-worth. When Manny’s grandmother dies, his emotions are metaphorically described as,

She will flake away into dirt, I thought, just as the sun does the bottom of a pond during a drought. Her shadow will be erased, and her soul will drift to heaven like the fluff of a dandelion in the wind.

The ‘parrot in the oven’ comes “from a Mexican saying about a parrot that complains how hot it is in the shade, while all along he’s sitting inside an oven,” which implies a certain amount of ignorance. However, the author also reflects on the circumstances that limit one’s choices – both those beyond one’s control and those that one accepts as conditions of their life!

My recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars
Submitted by M. Coleman, Media Specialist



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