Jesse

by Gary Soto

"By the time I was seventeen, in junior college, and living on fruit snatched from... read more

"By the time I was seventeen, in junior college, and living on fruit snatched from neighborhood trees and Top Ramen, I no longer thought God was the creaks rising from the wood floor. I knew God was found in prayer, not in the sudden closing of the hallway door just as you stepped from the bathroom." A provocative opening to a provocative novel about a young Mexican-American man coming face to face with adulthood, and the havoc it plays on his dreams. Jesse has left high school early, eager to start junior college and get an education. An aspiring artist, he lives with his older brother, Abel, and the two attend classes each weekday and then work as field laborers on the weekend to earn money for food. But Jesse sometimes wonders if he hasn't entered the adult world too quickly. His life at home with his mother and stepfather wasn't easy, but being out on his own means a struggling survival and decisions that can bring their own kind of difficulty and pain. The political struggles of César Chávez and migrant laborers figure prominently in this novel set in the early 1970's, while the Vietnam war rages quietly in the background. (Age 15 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1994

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