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The Year of Our Revolution written by Judith Ortiz Cofer


The Year of Our Revolution written by Judith Ortiz Cofer


Fiction. Poetry. Latino/Latina Studies. Young Adult. "Returning to the territory covered in An Island Like You and SILENT DANCING, Cofer further heightens her descriptions of barrio life with a pervasive current of sensuality and rebellion in this volume of poems and stories about growing up during the turbulent 1960s. Most of the stories are described in hindsight by narrator Mary Ellen, who is also known as Maria Elenita (however, readers may have trouble keeping track of the various narrators in the early stories—which are all told through first-person narration but from differing ages and perspectives). Caught between Hispanic and American lifestyles, and eager to break free of traditional Hispanic values, Mary Ellen is strongly attracted to things that are alien to her parents. Readers will likely relate to Mary Ellen's struggle for independence, her idealism and her need for answers, themes that Cofer carries through the entire collection. In "The Meaning of El Amor," for example, the narrator sneaks into a nightclub where her recently deceased father, "the Puerto Rican Romeo," moonlighted to find out why love causes so much suffering. Cofer's lyrical descriptions of how music and the Vietnam War fired Mary Ellen's youthful passions are affecting: "When she was deep into a song, Janis [Joplin] became beautiful. Her voice, hoarse and choked with pain, went right through my skin, and I began to understand the meaning of soul, el duende, in American music." Readers in the suggested age range may miss the most rewarding aspects of Cofer's work, but for mature teenagers, there is wisdom aplenty in this radiant collection. Ages 11-up"—Publishers Weekly.

A collection of poems, short storie, and essays address the theme of straddling two cultures as do the offspring of Hispanic parents living in the United States.


A collection of poems, short storie, and essays address the theme of straddling two cultures as do the offspring of Hispanic parents living in the United States.


This short collection of "new and selected stories and poems" by acclaimed Puerto Rican author Cofer features several teenage female protagonists who talk about their lives, their dreams, their first experiences with love, battles with their parents, and, of course, growing up in a multicultural world. It is full of rich descriptions of childhood spent in the barrios of New Jersey, and of a culture foreign to many, but nevertheless fascinating. One memorable story involves a girl named Isabel and her janitor father who works as an emcee at a nightclub. Because her mother does not approve of his job, it is never discussed around the house. Isabel has always imagined that her father's second job is glamorous and exciting, so when she turns eighteen she goes to the club to see for herself. Sitting in a booth in the back where she imagines she will not be spotted, and planning to surprise her father at the end, Isabel instead watches her father humiliate himself. The show is cheap and tawdry, and the club is second-rate. Embarrassed and ashamed, Isabel leaves before the show is over and never mentions it to her father. It is only after his death that Isabel discovers her father had seen her in the audience that night. As one of the other performers tells her, "he wanted you to see him as he really was. He hoped that you would talk to him." Unfortunately, Isabel never took that chance. It might take a specialized audience, but readers who enjoy this book should also be directed toward Cofer's An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio (Orchard, 1995/VOYA August 1995). VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).

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