Parrot in the Oven by Victor Martinez
mi vida

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Synopsis

Perico, or parrot, was what Dad called me sometimes. It was from a Mexican saying about a parrot that complains how hot it is in the shade, while all along he's sitting inside an oven and doesn't know it....

For Manuel Hernandez, the year leading up to his test of courage, his initiation into a gang, is a time filled with the pain and tension, awkwardness and excitement of growing up in a crazy world. His dad spends most of his time and money at the local pool hall; his brother flips through jobs like a thumb through a deck of cards; and his mom never stops cleaning the house, as though one day the rooms will be so spotless they'll disappear into a sparkle, and she'll be free.

Manny's dad is always saying that people are like money--there are million- and thousand- and hundred-dollar people out there, and to him, Manny is just a penny. But Manny wants to be more than a penny, smarter than the parrot in the oven. He wants to find out what it means to be a vato firme, a guy to respect.

In this beautifully written novel, Victor Martinez gives readers a vivid portrait of one Mexican-American boy's life. Manny's story is like a full-color home movie--sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always intensely original.For Manuel Hernandez, the year leading up to his test of courage, his initiation into a gang, is a time filled with the pain and tension, awkwardness and excitement of growing up in a mixed-up, crazy world. Manny’s dad is always calling him el perico, or parrot. It’s from a Mexican saying about a parrot that complains how hot it is in the shade while all along he’s sitting inside the oven and doesn’t know it. But Manny wants to be smarter than the parrot in the oven—he wants to find out what it means to be a vato firme, a guy to respect. From an exciting new voice in Chicano literature, this is a beautifully written, vivid portrait of one Mexican-American boy’s life.

1998 Pura Belpre Author Award
1996 Americas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature
1997 Books for the Teen Age (NY Public Library)
1996 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

 

About Victor Martinez

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Victor Martinez was born and raised in Fresno, California, the fourth in a family of twelve children. He attended California State University at Fresno and Stanford University, and has worked as a field laborer, welder, truck driver, firefighter, teacher, and office clerk. His poems, short stories, and essays have appeared in journals and anthologies. Mr. Martinez was awarded the 1996 National Book Award for Young People's Literature for Parrot in the Oven, his first novel. He now makes his home in San Francisco, California. Steve Scott is the illustrator of Splish Splash by Joan Bransfield Graham and is a children's book designer. He lives in New York City.
 
Published June 11, 2013 by HarperTeen. 228 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Young Adult, Literature & Fiction, Children's Books. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Parrot in the Oven

Kirkus Reviews

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A whirlwind of surprising similes and inventive turns of phrase colorfully frame this grim, ultimately tender story, subtitled ``Mi Vida,'' about a young Chicano getting his priorities straight.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Parrot in the Oven: mi vida

Publishers Weekly

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In his debut novel, set in a dusty California town, Martinez employs a series of compelling, frequently troubling vignettes to illuminate a Mexican American boy's coming of age. It's not easy for Manu

Oct 28 1996 | Read Full Review of Parrot in the Oven: mi vida

Publishers Weekly

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Manny steps onto a battlefield at every turn, whether he is collecting his alcoholic and violent father from the local pool hall, withstanding the ethnic slurs of white school mates, or seeking initiation into a neighborhood gang.

| Read Full Review of Parrot in the Oven: mi vida

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May 30 2016 | Read Full Review of Parrot in the Oven: mi vida

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