DRIFT by Manuel Luis Martinez


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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 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-312-30995-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Picador
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2003