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on November 4, 2012
Martinez's book is about a young family born into the unique clash of cultures in South Texas where the children must learn to consolidate their cultures. Their family gives them the understanding that being American/white/speaking English is superior to being Mexican/speaking Spanish and are callous and manipulative when the author does not adhere to the horrid machismo customs that they associate with being men, not with being Mexican. These themes are likely familiar to those growing up in South Texas, but the author was born in the exact circumstances that would exaggerate these problems for him - lack of power balance between the parents, young family, poor, being introspective, being male.

I highly recommend this book for anyone. Some of his experiences are potent, but he is so good at providing relevant events from his childhood, that you come to understand, and even predict, the actions he will take next, even if they wouldn't be your own. I found myself cheering him on but understanding why he would sometimes falter.

Mr. Martinez is introspective, even at an early age, which puts the reader in his head during some pretty substantial events. He allows you to understand his experiences and the conflict between knowing what is best and his own impulses. Also, he's pretty funny. He unexpectedly made me laugh out loud like three or four times.

I read this thing in less than two days. I usually enjoy reading Mexican-American literature, but I find that the themes usually center around the differences/problems between Mexican-Americans and whites or the rest of the US. This book is about how uniquely, exquisitely messed up the cultural niche in South Texas will make you - not because you don't get how to be American and Mexican at the same time, but because your elders or the people responsible for you don't get it.

Read this book if you are curious about a crazy-ass culture right here in the United States. Read it if you enjoy memoirs. Read it if you like a casual style that is meant to be understood and not intimidate. If you're from South Texas, read it to confirm that yes, all the kids you go to school with are Mexican and eat tamales at Christmas even if nobody ever talks about it, it's not just you.
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on August 22, 2012
Domingo Martinez takes us into a world that I have never visited before - nor even knew existed. The story of his growing up is equal measure hilarious and heartbreaking. This story is the "Angela's Ashes" of the barrio. I felt as if Mr.Martinez was in my living room because of his accessible and conversational tone. But so many phrases leapt out at me, making me smile at the turn of words. Lucky for us, Domingo survived his childhood with a keen sense of humor, in fact one must assume that helped him survive! This book is a remarkable first work and one that explores an important part of our American culture, heretofore, almost unknown.
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on September 21, 2012
He has such a unique style that's perfect for memoir. There's a lot of wit here even when he's describing grim things. So so interesting
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on November 19, 2012
I grew up in Idaho and this is my story. Macho attitudes live large in rural communities. We are a total white community that had families of five or more children. Farmers didn't need to import outsides workers in that environment. Young, macho and and what we called environmentally stupid. I thought that the story of the sisters getting all the attention and money hit home the best but, the story hit my home in so many ways.
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on September 2, 2012
This book is a poignant and definitive peek at the life of a young man in Brownsville,TX and the suffocating effect this place can be.
I read this book in about 4 days and would have finished but I had to put the book down for a couple of days because it hit too close to home.
Having grown up in the "Valley," I seriously feel for Domingo's plight of wanting to get out and do more. The heat is overwhelming and the view of life is simply, repressing!
Domingo's accurate depicition of the macho attitude of virtually all males in a typical Mexican-American family hit me right in the gut at how accurate they become. The men actually come out of the page and become attached to your psyche.
The "tough Gramma" figure is ever present in any Mexican-American family and can seriously infect your subconcious and you happy you are in the present and not in the presence of Gramma and her repressive, guilt-laden conversations.
The depiction of the family dynamic is so spot-on, I needed to remember the spell from Harry Potter where you can point the wand at your brain and the memories follow and drop into a container, never to be relived unless you want them to.
This book is an excellent memoir full of truth and confusion from a boy that just needed to get out!
I would highly recommend this for anyone who has ever felt a repressed childhood or teenagehood. These feelings are true and real.
Domingo Martinez writes from the heart and from the mind of these "Valley" kids who do not know that there is something better past the Sarita checkpoint!
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on July 13, 2012
Masterful storytelling. A family dealing with its personal demons and the realities of being poor and disenfranchised in America. Mr Martinez writes his story in a gritty unvarnished prose that will captivate its readers from beginning to end and leave them looking forward to future works from this writer. Tops on my list.
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on November 5, 2012
I always enjoy understanding nuances of cultures with which I am not completely familiar. Given the numerous articles about our border problems with Mexico, I decided to read this book. It is excellent! I understand actions and attitudes that had puzzled me. You will feel as if you are a real insider. I highly recommend this book.
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on July 14, 2012
This book is a memoir, a blog, a catharsis written in an authentic voice. The description of barrio life deep in South Texas gives a glimpse of a segment of the population that is seldom seen or heard, especially the experience of the male. Martinez is brutally honest in showing conflicting emotions about that experience and how it has and continues to shape him. And yet, it is universal in its truth about the human experience and I found myself relating though I am not a male hispanic who grew up dirt poor. This book held me in it's grip to the last word. The humor and pathos intermingled, just like life itself. I was sorry it ended.

I hope he is able to exorcize his demons completely. If not or even if so, I welcome another book from Domingo Martinez. He has a gift.
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on December 5, 2012
I am still reading this book. I have known many young men who have grown up in South Texas but had never really known how some felt trap in their environment. Thank you Domingo for opening my eyes to this reality.
The book is poorly written. Many phrases and accents marks in the parts written in Spanish are not grammatically correct. Did anyone edit this book before it was printed? Because his story is so compelling, these errors can be overlooked. The important part is that this is truly what one would label as "Authentic Literature".
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on June 11, 2013
This started out well but really needed some editing. The first third was interesting and flowed okay - maybe they stopped editing there thinking people would be hooked at that point. At the end of the book you find out that the book was based on his blog. It needed some serious editing to go from blog posts to a book which needs to flow from chapter to chapter. We selected this for book club but I was the only one that made it all the way through. Disappointing, especially since it was recommended by NPR. The premise of the story was interesting, but overall the book sounded like a series of therapy assignments.
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