Famous Mexican Americans Analysis
by Wendy Dunn, Janet Normura Morey

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Famous Mexican Americans Analysis

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Throughout the 1970’s and much of the 1980’s, there were strong voices—in scholarly writing, in the popular press, and in the media—asserting that notable Mexican Americans were being either ignored or maligned in historical and biographical works. Morey and Dunn respond to that accusation with this presentation of an honest and accurate, though definitely favorable, collective biography. The content of the book and the authors’ research methods should interest young adult readers and prove educational for them.

Morey and Dunn emphasize the values and beliefs of their subjects almost as much as they emphasize the accomplishments of these individuals. Dolores Huerta claims that “we must use our lives to make the world a better place, not just to acquire things,” and Blandina Cárdenas Ramírez’s parents argue that it is important to “be the best you can be, not only for yourself, but for others.” These statements are two examples of the values that led Huerta to take a high-ranking but modestly paying job in the United Farm Workers organization and Ramírez to devote her life to education and helping others improve the quality of life. Another example is the positive optimism of Luis Valdez, which led him to believe that when something was denied him, something was also being given to him—an increased capacity and determination to do things himself, to create. Valdez became an award-winning play-wright and director, with such films as Zoot Suit (1981) and La Bamba (1987) among his credits, as well as the public television presentation entitled Corridos, which was an outgrowth of his professional theater group called Teatro Campesino. The show featured Linda Ronstadt singing and enacting Mexican-American Corridos, which are folk songs that tell the story of a person or historical event. Valdez declined several offers to adapt the story of Chicano gang leader Santana; however, Edward James Olmos, another subject of Famous Mexican Americans, ultimately directed and starred in the film adaptation of that story, American Me (1992), which was a violent but critically well-received film.

Morey and Dunn clearly portray their subjects favorably, perhaps too...

(The entire section is 518 words.)