Voices in First Person: Reflections on Latino Identity share button
Lori Marie Carlson
Format Hardcover
Dimensions 6.25 (w) x 8.38 (h) x 0.44 (d)
Pages 96
Publisher Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication Date August 2008
ISBN 9781416906353
Book ISBN 10 1416906355
About Book


This eclectic, gritty, and groundbreaking collection of short monologues features twenty-one of the most respected Latino authors writing today, including Sandra Cisneros, Oscar Hijuelos, Esmeralda Santiago, and Gary Soto. Their fictional narratives give voice to what it's like to be a Latino teen in America. These voices are yearning. These voices are angry. These voices are, above all else, hopeful. These voices are America.


Horn Book Magazine

"While Laura Amy Schlitz introduced younger readers to voices from a medieval village in her recent Newbery Medal winner, Carlson, editor of the bilingual poetry anthology Cool Salsa (rev. 11/94), returns here with a superb collection of contemporary voices from the Latino community. All the contributors are Latino, and a few, such as Gary Soto and Sandra Cisneros, should already be familiar to young adults. While there is quite a range of style and content in these vignettes, they all evince pride in a cultural heritage that celebrates faith and tradition, food and language, and the importance of family."

VOYA - Leslie Wolfson

The title of this collection of poems, essays, short stories, and monologues is at first misleading. One expects the teen-oriented selections to be biographical, written by teens for other teens. In fact, each piece is fictional and has been written by several adult Latino authors. Two of the most famous, Sandra Cisneros and Gary Soto, are well known in young adult literature. Others will not be as familiar to most readers. With twenty-two stories in all, they are written in varying degrees of "giving voice to what it's like to be a Latino teen in America," as the book jacket proclaims. Mujeriego by Michael Mejias for instance, sounds like an actual teen speaking as he sits in custody for burning down a South Bronx social club and killing thirty-three people. Susan Guevara's realistic Last Night I Wanted to Die also explores a teen girl's contemplation of suicide. Other selections do not ring as true in terms of capturing the teen voice. The topics covered in the selections vary: teen pregnancy, crushes, immigrating to the United States, abusive fathers, evil spells, and how to cook a pig. Overall the subjects are serious, although a few have a humorous bent. The book also includes black-and-white photographs, interior illustrations, and short bios of each author. Reviewer: Leslie Wolfson

School Library Journal

Gr 6-10

As in Moccasin Thunder (HarperCollins, 2005) and Red Hot Salsa (Holt, 2005), Carlson has drawn from both established and new writers, focusing on finding Latino voices that speak to contemporary readers. Collected here are poems and short stories whose subjects range from finding God in the clouds to a lust for eating chicken, from someone's fingers on the hole in your jeans in a crowded café to someone asking, once again, "So, where are you from?" This collection sparkles more than its predecessors because of its dynamic design, featuring black-and-white photographs and line illustrations incorporated with the text in a collagelike magazine layout. Few pieces are longer than a spread or two, and the entire package encourages endless browsing, flipping, and double-dipping. Too bad this is a hardcover-only release, and too bad someone thought it needed the odd synopses that float like loud subtitles, prosaically describing and overburdening the pieces. Why does the title "Last Week I Wanted to Die" need a caption that reads: "A girl, plagued by thoughts of not fitting in, contemplates the meaning of death"? Why diminish "Poultrymorphosis" with the explanation "A boy describes eating his favorite food," thereby soddening the appetite? But forgive this book its overzealousness-it still sings, and nudges its readers to do the same.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA