In Santana's heartfelt debut (winner of 1999's Chicano/Latino Literary Contest), trauma for San Diego's Sahagún family begins in 1969 when son Chuy returns from Vietnam an aloof, bitter man. He barely acknowledges the party his family throws for him and within days has bought a Harley and disappeared down the road. Chuy's departure coincides with yearnings toward independence by his sisters, especially the older ones, who chafe at being forbidden to date by their domineering father. Caroline simply brings her Marine boyfriend home one day, willing to face her father's apoplectic response in order to show her younger siblings the way. Quiet, watchful 14-year-old Yoli is the reader's witness: to secret meetings between another sister and an older man; to the outrageous behavior of her womanizing older brother; even to her own adolescent pining for a dark, handsome schoolmate. Chuy's return, months later, opens a more dangerous phase in the family chronicle, as his pent-up wrath finally explodes in the face of an innocent neighbor. Now wanted by the police, Chuy goes into hiding, and only after weeks of worry and her own bad-girl displays can Yoli find a way to bring her brother out of his private hell.
Read full book review >