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Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood

Children's Literature

Growing up in a barrio in small town New Mexico is an endless series of losses for Sammy Santos—a mother to illness; a girlfriend to a father's anger; high school friends to Viet Nam, drugs, and exile; and plans to the accidents of life. But somehow Sammy survives the sixties with his sense of self and ability to love intact. This is a moving and convincing description of the confusions of the sixties, combined with the difficulties of growing up Mexican-American and poor. Sammy is a hard-working, intelligent, quiet kid who—like his father—is learning not to be afraid to show his love. His becoming a leader is accidental and right. It is one of the best Viet Nam era novels for this age I have read. The love story, though over rather early in the book, is very sweet. I particularly liked the relationship between Sammy and his father. We do not often see books for this age where kids genuinely respect and love their parents.

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