REVIEW OF THE SKINNY YEARS
by Maria Ferrer, host and editor Latina Book Club
Colorful. Emotional. Outstanding.
THE SKINNY YEARS can take its place proudly alongside other notable coming-of-age tales like BLESS ME, ULTIMA by Rudolfo Anaya; WHEN I WAS PUERTO RICAN by Esmeralda Santiago; and ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
THE SKINNY YEARS deals with lots of complex issues like identity, loss, belonging and connection. Through our teen hero Victor “Skinny” Delgado,” Ramos y Sanchez gives life and light to the “kaleidoscope of color, culture and creed” that was Miami in the turbulent 1960s.
SUMMARY: Victor Delgado is eight years old when his family flees Cuba in 1959 as Fidel Castro moves in. The family goes from being land rich to dirt poor. Whereas the family had several maids in Havana, now the mother works as a hotel maid in Miami, while his ex-law professor Dad wallows in the past. Luckily, Abuela is always there to care for Victor and his baby sister and share her own brand of wisdom; as well as his best friend Loco, another exile with dubious connections.
Victor quickly learns to survive in this foreign land where a fat man in a red suit replaces the Three Kings and demons boldly knock on your door wanting treats. He learns a new language and earns a new nickname with one swing of the bat. He obsesses over puppy love; joins the skateboard craze with a home-made board; lives through Hurricane Cleo; stars on the football team; runs away to join a commune; and returns home to reconnect with his family and his future.
And as Victor grows and changes so do his two homelands: Cuba and the U.S. Victor and the world around him are in constant flux – Cuba and the U.S. face off during the Cuban Missile Crisis; the Civil Rights Movement burns bright; disco balls rule the music halls; and peace walks hand in hand with drugs.
Readers will love the characters, the fast pace, and the realistic setting that frames the story. It’s an emotionally packed coming of age tale that is destined to be a classic. Bravo, Raul, Bravo.
You can see the original review at the Latina Book Club website.
Raul Ramos y Sanchez