Thursday, April 30, 2015

Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos

Sometimes you need to step away from yourself to figure out who you are and what matters. Dark Dude explores that journey for one teen.

Rico is a young Latino boy growing up in 1960s Harlem. The problem is that he looks like a white boy, which leaves him torn in his identity since he's not white, but the Latinos don't count him as one of them either. When his struggles in school lead his parents to threaten military school, Rico makes a drastic decision to run away with his best friend who nearly died in a horrible accident while on drug. Looking for a fresh start, they head to Wisconsin to stay with an old buddy of Rico's. While Rico and his friend start to find their places in the world, Rico discovers that you can't escape all of your problems.

Although this novel takes place in the '60s, it is a timeless story about identity and family. Aside from mentions of hippies and full-service gas stations, it's easy to imagine this story happening now. The target audience definitely feels male, but the message is for anyone. It speaks of the people of the world and how even the most picturesque place will have its problems. It talks of overcoming your demons and finding your place. And it talks about family and the undeniable draw they have on your life.

This book has the potential to speak to a number of impressionable teens as they fight to figure out where they fit in their cultures, family and the world in general. It looks like a long book and that might deter some readers, but it is easy to get through and worth the time.

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