Although I was required to read this for a class, I really enjoyed this book! I got sucked in pretty quickly and couldn't put it down. The book is about a boy named Antonio who struggles with balancing his Catholic roots and Hispanic culture with the Native American culture in his community. He tries to decide who to become - a priest like his mother wishes, a farmer like his father wishes or something completely different, guided by the family's guest, Ultima. The story is charming and really hit home for me, being a Catholic myself. (Not that it pushes Catholic ideals - rather, I felt connected to the Catholic culture). The book follows Antonio through his young childhood for most of his elementary school years.
One of my favorite lines/sections of the book is when Antonio and all the boys in his class try to re-enact a nativity scene. There has been a blizzard, so only the boys showed up to school that day.
"..and even most of the town kids stayed home. But Horse and Bones and the rest of the gang from Los Jaros were there. They were the dumbest kids in school, but they never missed a single day. Hell could freeze over but they would still come marching across the tracks, wrestling, kicking at each other, stomping into the classrooms where they fidgeted nervously all day and made things miserable for their teachers."
Isn't that so true! The "trouble-makers" will always be at school no matter what, but the "good" kids are absent every once in a while. (Just for the record, I love all of my students, "trouble-makers" or not). This excerpt is followed by a hilarious attempt by the boys and the teacher present a nativity scene.
If you desire to read a "classic" or chicano fiction, this is the book for you! Although tragic and intense, it was also enjoyable.
Picture from goodreads.com (which is a super awesome website, by the way).
Source for excerpt:
Anaya, Rudolfo A. Bless Me, Ultima. New York: Warner, 1999. 155-56. Print.