Through short stories and personal vignettes, Sacre introduces readers to his family, several traditional folk tales and his own success as a professional storyteller.
The standout stories of the collection feature strong characters from the author’s family, particularly the extended family on his Cuban side. They are over-the-top, as funny as they are touching. These stories convey the importance of bilingualism and biculturalism and should appeal to young readers. However, the tone of the whole collection feels disjointed, and the intended audience is unclear. Would readers who are compelled by the silly origin story of the author’s nickname on his first day of school be as engaged by the politics of dual-language education or by the poignant account of the evolution of the author’s relationship with his father as an adult? In some stories, the magic of spoken language is lost somewhere in the transition to the written word. For example, in “Lake View High School,” the vernacular that the author employs when describing how he presented the plot of Antigone to a group of urban high school students may soar when told aloud but is cringe-worthy to read from text.
Though the work falls apart as a cohesive collection, individual stories and the themes of bicultural identity and the bonds of family shine through. (Nonfiction. 8-13)