REACH OUT, RICARDO by Mary Collins Dunne


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Not migrants but grape-pickers all the same, rightfully discontented with things as they are, yet ambivalent about the possibility of change. Nevertheless they rally to la causa with la huelga, and the pivot is Ricardo Torres, thirteen: Abuelo or Grandfather claims that striking is folly -- he knows from experience -- and Mama agrees with him; Papa, however, is one of the leaders, and Ricardo is fighting a war of allegiance because he fears, besides hunger and hardship, jeopardizing his friendship with Doug Williamson whose parents are small growers, undeserving victims of the strike. This year in the life of Ricardo is chronicled with a docility that might be creditable if it weren't so dulling; each fragment has its own center, climax, and denouement -- the birth and death of a baseball team, the slow getting and quick spending of money, the ascendancy of one Larry as Ricardo's mentor and the tragic tractor accident that kills him and numbs his fiancee, the visits to other boys' better homes that end abruptly with the taking of sides on the strike issue. So it's hard to see the march on the state capital as anything but another episode: the pace never accelerates and Ricardo's decision to join it is anticlimactic; the whole book appears to be marking time in place, encouraging gaping without advancing understanding.

Pub Date: June 8th, 1971
Publisher: Abelard-Schuman