"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Prizefighter en mi Casa


Title: Prizefighter en mi Casa

Author: e. E. Charlton-Trujillo

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 0385733259


Prizefighter en mi Casa tells the story of young Chula Sanchez, a twelve-year old girl with a mountain of serious problems. I’m talking BIG issues here. She’s extremely poor, she’s got epilepsy, her dad drinks, her mom is ashamed of her, her brother picks on her and is starting to get involved with a gang and oh yeah, she’s Mexican in a small Texas town where racism is alive and well. Remember those stories your abuela used to tell you about the Cucuy? I do and they scared the hell out of me. They scare Chula too only the Cucuy is coming to stay with her family. You see, Chula’s father is determined to pull his family out of debt and so he has called on an old friend, El Jefe – a battered prizefighter from Mexico with a dark reputation and past. In Mexico City, they chant his name, El Jefe del Diablo – the Boss of the Devil. Ayyyyy! Yet Chula and this unlikely man become fast friends. Each finds something in the other that touches their heart, they find understanding.


I was impressed by this story. It’s dark, sad, sometimes brutal and absolutely wonderful. The conversations with Chula’s mom are intense and heart wrenching. The writing really makes you feel Chula’s hopes and fears. The budding friendship between Chula and El Jefe is touching and speaks to every tentative instance where a new relationship develops, the uncertainty, the fear and the yearning for contact. There are wonderful sentences that are so poetic I just fell in love with the language of the book. Take for instance, "Sprinkles scattered like lost children hoping to find their mothers soon." Or "Not to mention, nobody went down to the Playground after dark anymore unless they were dark enough in the heart not to be seen." That’s wonderful imagery and it gives you a picture so clear you can see that playground and what goes on after dark.


e. E. Charlton-Trujillo has written an amazing story of love, family, bravery and real life. It’s an amazing and truthful book.

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