Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 333
Victor Martinez’s Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida won the 1996 National Book Award for Young People’s Fiction. In powerful prose, it tells the story of Manuel Hernandez, a Mexican-American teenager living in a housing project in California, as he comes of age among a battling family and newly emerging passions.
The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros, is made up of short vignettes about a young girl, Esperanza, growing up in a Latino section of Chicago, dreaming of the life she will have someday.
Anaya wrote two more novels that, along with Bless Me, Ultima, make up his “New Mexican Trilogy”: Heart of Aztlan (1976) and Tortuga (1979). In Heart of Aztlan, a man struggles to provide for his family in a barrio of Albuquerque, and goes on a mythic quest in order to help his community. In Tortuga, a teenaged boy is admitted to a hospital for crippled children, where he is initiated into a new way of looking at the world.
Pocho, a novel by Jose Antonio Villarreal that was published in 1970, details the experiences of a young Mexican-American boy in California during the Depression who is torn between his parents’ values and the ideas found in their new country.
And the Earth Did Not Devour Him, by Tomas Rivera, is considered a Chicano classic. The book, which is not written in linear fashion but rather in layers of anecdotes, stories, and conversations, portrays images of a South Texas migrant worker community after World War II. The primary focus is on one boy’s struggle for identity as he recalls being expelled from an Anglo school, the suffering of his family, and religious confusion.
The 1998 book Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa, by Mark Mathabane, is a nonfiction account of one boy’s struggle with racism as he comes of age in South Africa; he succeeds largely through hard work and a strong faith in advancing himself through education.