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A SO-CALLED VACATION by Genaro González


by Genaro González

Pub Date: May 31st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-55885-545-8
Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público

González focuses on family relationships in this sketchy tale of a Tejano and his two sons in a migrant labor camp. Announcing that they all need the experience as much as the money, Gus and Gabriel’s father drives the family to California for a summer of fieldwork. Once there, the lads moan about the hard labor, exchange bawdy banter with fellow workers and encounter discrimination in the local town. Gus falls in with one ne’er-do-well neighbor, another neighbor supplies his sons with pills that make them work at maniacal speed and Gabriel is disturbed to find that his own attitudes toward migrants aren’t all that positive. In the end their father abruptly bundles them all back to Texas, and an epilogue reveals that even after his death eight years later Gus nurses some sort of enduring grievance against him. With the exception of several obvious types, Gabriel is the only sharply delineated character in this loosely constructed, character-driven tale. Some food for thought, but Joyce McDonald’s Devil on My Heels (2004) or Cynthia DeFelice’s Under the Same Sky (2003) presents many of the same issues better. (Fiction. YA)