This is a sober, moving, coming-of-age story. Sammy lives in a poor, Chicano, small-town New Mexico barrio. Although he has lost his mother, he has what many of his friends don't--a loving, caring father. A serious student, he excels in school but suffers the low self-esteem of a minority teenager whom the "gringo" world deems less capable of intellectual and career achievement. He falls in love with a girl who is living in a nightmare of domestic abuse. He loses her when her alcoholic father murders the entire family. Still, his ever-steady father, an irascible old lady who lives next door, and his friends sustain him. Set in the 1960s, the novel explores how the counterculture affected youth from a disenfranchised but still conservative background. The prose and plot have tremendous grace and emotional impact. YAs of today can relate. Excellent for cultural studies. Recommended for senior high school students.