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Ernesto Galarza's Barrio Boy follows the story of a Mexican boy who is moved from his home country to the barrio of Sacramento, California. The main character is Ernesto Galarza himself, who lives with his mother, Doña Henriquetta. Henriquetta is divorced from Ernesto's father and receives help in raising Ernesto from Uncle Gustavo, Aunt Esther, and Uncle José.
Henriquetta is very concerned with the safety of her son, and as soldiers with guns start to arrive in their village, signaling stirrings of the Mexican Revolution, she decides to move Ernesto from one place to the next: Tepic, Acaponeta, Mazatlán, and then to Sacramento, where they are reunited with José and Gustavo.
Other significant characters include Miss Ryan, the first-grade teacher of Ernesto, who works hard to teach him English, and Mrs. Dodson, the owner of the boardinghouse that houses Ernesto and his family.
The plot revolves around the main character, Ernesto Galarza, who is raised by his mother, Dona Henriqueta. Dona was divorced by Ernesto's father when Ernesto was just an infant. This is a story of struggle and coming to grips with harsh reality.
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