CHICANO GIRL by Hila Colman


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Donna Martinez is Hila Colman's standard bearer for the chicano minority and the sixteen year-old girl's confused attempts to come to terms with her heritage are handled with considerable sensitivity -- but so singlemindedly that the reader sometimes wishes Donna would think about something else for just a few minutes. Donna first goes to live with relatives in hopes of attending beauty school and assimilating herself into Anglo prosperity, but after a disastrous date with an Anglo boy she is frightened into obeying her aunt's wish that she stay home and learn to be a good Mexican cook and housekeeper. Romero, a militant law student,eventually gets Donna interested in the chicano movement, and their arguments about assimilation vs. preserving chicano culture -- and about the proper role of the Mexican woman -- are complex enough to sustain our interest. What doesn't work, however, is the overwhelming climax in which Mr. Martinez is murdered while an uninvolved bystander at a demonstration of migrant workers. In comparison to her father's sudden martyrdom, all the small slights and minor setbacks Donna has suffered pale into belated insignificance and the story is just too slight to accommodate the abrupt shift from teenage realism to tragedy. Donna is certainly an acceptable medium for anyone who wants to learn about the problems of chicano youth, and some very good scenes -- particularly those involving Donna's job at a fried chicken joint -- compensate for the unduly mechanical plot.

Pub Date: Aug. 8th, 1973
Publisher: Morrow