Standard teenaged angst with a Latin accent. Decently done but unremarkable.


The coming-of-age of a young Chicano in Texas, as told by newcomer Martinez.

Happy adolescents are the same everywhere, but no one would put Robert Lomos in that category. A Mexican-American born and raised in San Antonio, Robert lives alone with his grandmother, a pious and strong-willed woman who cleans houses for a living and is determined that her grandson will grow up decent, honest, and pure. Robert isn’t entirely with the program, but since grandma has sent him to Sunnydale Christian Academy, he can’t rebel quite as openly as he’d like. The fact is that Robert comes from fairly wild stock: His father was a jazz musician who abandoned his family years ago, leaving Robert with his grandmother while Robert’s mother ran off in desperate (and hopeless) pursuit of her husband. Sunnydale is about as strict as you might imagine (dress code, prayers, continual lectures about Satan), but Robert can spot a kindred spirit at a glance, and he quickly finds one in Nacho, who cultivates sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll just as avidly (and secretly) as Robert. Together, the two raise about as much hell as possible without being expelled, and Robert has the added thrill of scoring with Diana, a convent-school girl whom Nacho is madly in love with. But eventually these small pleasures are just not enough, and Robert runs away to LA to search for (and possibly reunite with) his father and mother. Los Angeles is a different scene entirely, and Robert takes to it well, but his reunion is cut short when his grandmother dies. Is this the end of his innocence? The beginning of his adult life? Will it drive his parents closer together? Or farther apart? Either way, there’s no going home again.

Standard teenaged angst with a Latin accent. Decently done but unremarkable.

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-312-30995-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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