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CrashBoomLove: A Novel in Verse

by Juan Felipe Herrera

Published by University of New Mexico Press, 1999
155 pages
ISBN: 0-8263-2114-3

Ages 14 - 18

In a series of brief narrative poems, Juan Felipe Herrera tells the story of César, a Chicano teenager. César misses his father, knows he's an outsider at his conventional high school, and--more than anything else--is much more influenced by his peers than by his mother or any other authority. In a powerful work with an inviting, strong graphic design, Herrera examines the extremes of peer pressure and some of the consequences. He shows the feelings of a kid who wants to feel hope but finds he cannot. He traces César's slow emergence into the distinctive, talented guy he might become some day. This is riveting reading for teenagers, but César's narrative voice also poses tough questions for adults. Does growth require previous extremes, such as expulsion from school or an accident fatal to a friend? Who can relate to the Césars in our world? And who does? By juxtaposing the words from "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" with César's thoughts near the climax, Herrera suggests that different cultural groups can act together in harmony. CCBC categories: Poetry; Fiction for Teenagers. (GMK; Mar 6) ©1999 Cooperative Children's Book Center

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