JUANITA FIGHTS THE SCHOOL BOARD by Gloria "Veláquez

JUANITA FIGHTS THE SCHOOL BOARD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this first book of Velásquez's projected Roosevelt High School series, Mexican-American Juanita Chávez is expelled from school for fighting, although she didn't start the fight and the white girl who did has not been punished at all. Juanita is devastated: Unlike her older brother who wants to quit school and get a job, she enjoys her studies and would like to finish and eventually become a Spanish teacher. Through her friend Maya, Juanita meets Ms. Martinez, a psychiatrist who agrees to counsel Juanita and speak to the school administration on her behalf. Ms. Martìnez also enlists the aid of Sam Turner, a white liberal lawyer, to fight the school's decision. The establishment plays dirty, but justice predictably triumphs, and Juanita is allowed to resume her education. Undeveloped subplots include Juanita's struggle against her strict father, her budding illicit romance with a neighborhood boy, and Ms. Martinez's complex relationship with her own mother. The narrative alternates between Juanita's and Ms. Martinez's voices -- Juanita's present tense is particularly jarring -- and reads like a real case history, with all the idiosyncracies of actual speech and the irrelevancies of real life. Although the issues explored here are important ones, Velásquez's presentation is unengaging. Dry, repetitive, and all too realistic.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
Page count: 152pp
Publisher: Arte Publico