About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Jiménez' autobiographical story The Circuit (1997) broke new ground with its drama of a Mexican American migrant child in southern California. It won many prizes and was a Booklist Editors' Choice. This moving sequel is a fictionalized memoir of Jimenez's teenage years in the late 1950s, when the family finally stayed in one place and Francisco and his brothers worked long hours before and after school to put food on the table. First they picked strawberries in the fields. Later the jobs got better: cleaning offices, washing windows and walls, waxing floors. The prose here is not as taut as in the first book, but Jimenez writes with simplicity about a harsh world seldom seen in children's books. He also writes about a scary, sad, furious, and broken father--like the father in Na's A Step from Heaven [BKL Je 1 & 15 01]. He stays true to the viewpoint of a teenager growing up poor: the yearning (What would it be like to live in a house, rather than the crowded barracks?); the ignorance (College?); the hurt of prejudice. Yet he celebrates his Mexican roots even as he learns to be an American. The images are powerful, especially the one of the boy cleaning offices before dawn, with notes of English words to memorize in his shirt pocket. An excellent choice for ESL classes, this is a book for many readers, who may discover an America they didn't know was here.