Title: Parrot in the Oven
Author: Victor Martinez
Publication Date: 2004
Publisher: Rayo; Reprint edition
Paperback: 224 pages
List Price: $8.99
Book Description: Dad believed people were like money. You could be a thousand-dollar person or a hundred-dollar person — even a ten-, five-, or one-dollar person. Below that, everybody was just nickels and dimes. To my dad, we were pennies.
Fourteen-year-old Manny Hernandez wants to be more than just a penny. He wants to be a vato firme, the kind of guy people respect. But that′s not easy when your father is abusive, your brother can′t hold a job, and your mother scrubs the house as if she can wash her troubles away.
In Manny′s neighborhood, the way to get respect is to be in a gang. But Manny′s not sure that joining a gang is the solution. Because, after all, it′s his life — and he wants to be the one to decide what happens to it.
Book Review: Parrot in the Oven follows teenage Manny and his complicated, yet somewhat troubled life. The father has lost his job which has prompted him to drink more and become more abusive – all of which drive Manny into the wrong direction.
Manny believes that they only way to find respect in his neighborhood is by joining a gang. Despite the good people in his life – his younger sister Pedi and his old history teacher, Mr. Hart – Manny still tests his courage by joining the gang later in chapter ten. Fortunately, at the end of the book, Manny discovers that his home and his life is where he should be.
This book covers some controversial topics such as: gun control, teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, gang initiation, immigration, and domestic violence – all of which add to the diversity of the story. I really enjoyed the symbolism and metaphoric phrases used to describe the father’s drinking problem and the brother’s inability to keep a job. The vocabulary in this book is appropriate for students at the high school level.
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