Wednesday, December 18, 2013

East Side Dreams by Art Rodriguez

Rodriguez’s heartfelt memoir begins with the night that changed his life and led to his lengthy stay in a juvenile detention facility. Growing up in a Mexican-American family in San Jose, California, Rodriguez had a mother who was seemingly oblivious to his violent antics and a father who believed that physical abuse was the only way to set his children straight. While sometimes providing more detail than needed, Rodriguez’s storytelling makes it easy for the reader to picture his family, his neighborhood and the detention facility where he spent so much time. Rodriguez is clearly proud of the way his life turned out; he left the fighting and trouble-making for a happier life, one with a large family and his own business. Unfortunately, Rodriguez glosses over that process, and it’s never entirely clear what motivated him to turn his life around. Still, this book is likely to be popular with students who ask for books about real people who have spent time in prison.  --Anja Kennedy

Rodriguez, Art. East Side Dreams. San Jose, CA: Dream House Press, 1999. Print.

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