Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book Review: Motorcycle Ride on the Sea of Tranquility

Motorcycle Ride on the Sea of Tranquility by Patricia Santana

It's April 1969, and fourteen-year-old Yolanda SahagĂșn can hardly wait to see her favorite brother, Chuy, newly returned from Vietnam. But when he arrives at the Welcome Home party the family has prepared in his honor it's clear that the war has changed him. The transformation of Chuy is only one of the challenges that Yolanda and the rest of her family face. This powerful coming-of-age novel, winner of the 1999 Chicano/Latino Literary Contest, is a touching and funny account of a summer that is still remembered as a crossroads in American life. Yolanda and her brothers and sisters learn how to be men and women and how to be Americans as well as Mexican Americans.

Reviewed by: Sandra Lopez, author of Esperanza and Beyond the Gardens

Review: Chuy is back from war, but he is different; and the whole family is wondering why, especially his "favorite" sister, Yolanda. So, right away, we are presented with a mystery. Who is this guy and what happened to him? Then Chuy runs off on his Harley and disappears. It is at this time that Yolanda and the family reminisce about Chuy and how it used to be with their family. And while Chuy is "missing," Yolanda continues to grow into her teen years, oblivious to her own femininity and the male psyche. It's like "The (Latina) Wonder Years," a story of a youth coming of age as world history--war, TV, music, the 60's--happens all around her.

At times, the story went off track when the main character started telling the history of their roots and the "American" dream--all boring, really. And although this book was very well-written for the most part, you did run into some sentences that were quite ambiguous. Don't be fooled by the cover, which looks like something that was crudely spliced together in Photoshop; this book is actually pretty good. The author writes with such poignant sensitivity and beauty. Full of mystery and intriguing wonder.

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