Critical Overview

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 420

Like most of Ortiz Cofer's work, An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio has been met with both critical and popular success. The collection was awarded the Horn Book Farfare Award and the Hungry Mind Book of Distinction award, as well as listings with Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers and Best Books for Young Adults. Hazel Rochman, in her review for Booklist, writes, "The contemporary teenage voices are candid, funny, weary, and irreverent in these stories about immigrant kids caught between their Puerto Rican families and the pull and push of the American dream." In her review for Horn Book Nancy Vasilakis agrees, writing, "The Caribbean flavor of the tales gives them their color and freshness, but the narratives have universal resonance in the vitality, the brashness, the self-centered hopefulness and the angst expressed by the teens."

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Sensitivity to voice has been the cornerstone of critique of Ortiz Cofer's work; whether discussing her poetry or her prose, critics have always emphasized its authenticity. Vasilakis writes that "the teenagers [in An Island Like You] speak in characteristic yet very distinct voices and appear in each others' stories the way neighbors step in and out of each others' lives." Rochman asserts that "the teen narrators sometimes sound too articulate, their metaphors overexplained, but no neat resolutions are offered, and the metaphors can get it just right." In Bishop's words, "Cofer's writing is lively, and the characters are memorable ... The voices in these stories ring true, as do the stories themselves."

In his book Dance Between Two Cultures: Latino Caribbean Literature Written in the United...

(The entire section contains 420 words.)

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Essays and Criticism