Having just returned from Maui for nine days, I can honestly say I did more than just get away from the rat race that is daily life by snorkeling and eating Spam Musubi everyday; I read Richard Vasquez’s Chicano novel for the very first time. And I have no idea why I didn’t read it sooner.
I mean, I took La Raza studies in college and have committed myself to soaking up as much knowledge about my culture and history as I can since I was 18, but I never opened the pages of this book. It’s packed with the history of Los Angeles like I’ve never seen it written before. It tells of the struggle of the Chicano to be stuck between two cultures—American and Latino—and the ways in which different gente choose to navigate those paths.
It made me realize the importance of identity and how hard it is to find as a young child lost in meztiza land. As we approach Hispanic Heritage Month (I know, I hate that term too), it’s crucial to brush up on the stories of our ancestors who carried the torch for us here in Aztlan. Although it’s a novel, there’s no doubt these stories were happening in our own communities back in the day.
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