Friday, October 30, 2009

Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood Benjamin Alire Saenz

Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alir Saenz

Last month was Hispanic Hertiage month. I help create a list of titles for Color Online to recognize and celebrate it. Sammy and Julina in Hollywood was on the list, though I hadn't read it yet. After reading author Zetta Elliott's review , where see said I loved it in caps and placed it up there with Francisco X Stork's Marcelo in the Real World, I knew I had to read Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood. The caps were well deserved. This is a beautiful book.

Sammy Santos is one of the best three dimensional young adult male protagonist I've read in a long time or ever. Sammy's Hollywood is his barrio in New Mexico, its 1969. Juliana is his friend, the girl he loves and the girl he wants to save. Though this book is so much more, we meet Sammy and his friends there junior year of high school. This is about their life in Hollywood. Every single character in well thought out and well crafted. The author allows the reader to feel and taste Sammy & Julina's world.

Its always easy to spot an author who is a poet. Sure enough I got that feeling, so I flipped to the front , the author has published poetry as well. Saenz, finds words for moments that I thought had no words. He catches the lines between the lines. I know that last part doesn't make sense, so you'll just have to trust me.

Gigi sings " I didn't know anybody could sing like that. And the song she was singing, it was an old Mexican love song entitled La gloria eres tu. She was singing from a different place. And in the moonlight, she didn't seem like a girl at all. She was a soman with a voice. Any man would die just to hear that voice. I thought the world had stopped to listen to Gigi Carmona from Hollywood. I could see tears rolling down Pifa's face. As pure as Gigi's voice. Maybe this was the way the world should end. Not with me and my own thoughts, not with high school boys using their firsts on each other, not with Pifas going off to war - but with the tears of boys falling to the beat of a woman's song, the sounds of guns and bombs and fists against flesh disappearing. This is the way the world should end with boys turning into men as they listen to a woman sing."

Benjamin Alire Saenz, newest book Last Night I Sang to Monster is out now. Its received five star reviews from School Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. I make it a point not to cut and paste. The following is going to be the one expection because I loved Sammy& Juliana in Hollywood so much.

Zach’s first-person voice is compelling and heartbreaking. Sáenz’ poetic
narrative will captivate readers from the first sentence to the last paragraph
of this beautifully written novel, which explores the painful journey of an
adolescent through the labyrinth of addiction and alcoholism.
--Kirkus Reviews--


Zetta said...

Wow--he's got a new book out! It's a must read, I'm glad you pointed me to Sammy & Juliana, Doret, and that quote you used was one of the best in the book...

Jodie said...

That quote is great. This went on my list after Zetta Elliott's review as well. I feel it may be quite sad possibly?

Anonymous said...

Last year, I gave this book to a students who was assigned to work with me in the media center. She's a young latina who had never finished a book. Well, she read this and several others I gave her. She often comes back asking for more books, but last week, she gave me a list of authors whose books she wanted me to buy. Saenz was one of them.
I haven't read it yet... it disappeared from my media center. Another testament, I guess??

Anonymous said...

I think he has two older books, also

Doret said...

Jodie and Edi, you must read this book. Edi what else was on her list?

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