Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida

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9780060267063: Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida

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 spend 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 thousands-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

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Review:

It's no wonder that Parrot in the Oven won the 1996 National Book Award for Young People's Fiction. Victor Martinez's lush, evocative prose leaps from the page, grabbing the reader by the throat right from the start. Not only do we witness Manuel Hernandez's coming of age, we feel every juicy moment of it: his ache for something just out of reach, the confusion of seeing his family with new eyes, the tickle and flood of awakening passion. It's difficult to portray transformation from the inside, but Martinez does so with grace and power.

About the Author:

Victor Martinez was born and raised in Fresno, California and now lives in San Francisco. His poems, short stories, and essays have appeared in journals such as The Iowa Review and Bloomsbury Review. This is his first novel.

Victor Martinez says that his background "makes up the stuff of my work." Born and raised in Fresno, California, the fourth in a family of twelve children, he attended California State University at Fresno and Stanford University. He has also worked as a field laborer, welder, truck driver, firefighter, teacher, and office clerk.

Mr. Martinez's poems, short stories, and essays have appeared in a number of prestigious publications, including Si, El Andar, The Bloomsbury Review, The High Plains Literary Review, and The Iowa Review.

Victor Martinez lives with his wife in San Francisco. Parrot in the Oven: Mi vida--the story of Manny Hernandez's struggles with the awkwardness of adolescence as he searches for acceptance and becomes a vato firme, a stand-up guy--is his first novel.

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