“Muerte en Una Estrella/Shooting Star” Sergio D. Elizondo

Rated 4 stars **** Arte Público Press. 2014. 310 p. (First published in Spanish in 1984 by Tinta Negra Editores, this 2014 version contains both the original Spanish version and the English translation).

MuerteEnUnaEstrellaShootingStarIn 1968, sixteen-year-old Oscar Balboa and nineteen-year-old Valentín Rodríguez were shot in the back and killed by several Texas policemen. With a dreamlike quality, Elizondo takes readers through Oscar and Valentín’s rambling thoughts as they lay dying in the field where they fell.

Oscar and Valentín had recently arrived at Camp Gary to learn new, employable skills that would help them escape the difficult, poor paying migrant worker lives of their parents. They soon became inseparable. Valentín had a protective “big brother” outlook towards Oscar and big dreams to make something of his life. Oscar was a dreamer who loved Valentín and classical music, and was desperate to escape the fields. He was sure there was more to life than what he was experiencing, and envisioned himself in a whole new world.

Oscar and Valentín’s memories and experiences speak about the heavy prejudice and police brutality they and others experienced in Texas, while bringing readers alongside César Chávez as he worked to improve migrant worker’s lives. “Shooting Star” opens reader’s eyes to a time in Chicano history which has been largely unknown or forgotten, but is still relevant today.

Recommended for Adult readers.


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