Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Galarza, a recognized authority on labor trends and the social life of Mexicans and Mexican Americans, wrote several books that describe the living and working conditions of life in the Southwest. The writing of Barrio Boy was supported by the United States-Mexican Border Studies Program and the University of Notre Dame. The resulting autobiography is recognized as an exceptional account of life in Mexico just before and during the early years of the Mexican Revolution. The young reader can experience what it was like to be a child in a mountain village, a besieged city, or a railroad tent town at the beginning of the revolution. Barrio Boy is also highly recognized for its portrayal of immigration to the United States. Young readers will gain an appreciation of the barrio way of life. They will visualize the early days of a young boy who later became a successful writer and teacher, earning a Ph.D. from Columbia University. As such, the story provides inspiration for all those who hope for a better life through hard work and education. Perhaps the story is most recognized for the cultural understanding that it promotes; the family strength, the barrio social life, and the patience and hard work of Mexican Americans are clear examples of a way of life that all people might emulate.