“The cholo tree” Daniel Chacón

Rated 3 stars *** 2017. Arte Público Press. 248 pp.

TheCholoTreeFourteen-year-old Victor is an aspiring artist and cook in his low income, gang filled neighborhood and, like most kids his age, doesn’t like school. He was very close to his father who was killed when Victor was very young, and holds his mother at an emotional distance. Though not a cholo (gang member) she believes he is one, and doesn’t trust him.

Victor doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life and is reluctant to choose a path, despite direction from a teacher he trusts and a very smart girlfriend who gives him some inspiration. As he aimlessly wanders through the life he’s chosen for himself, Victor has to sort through layers of experiences to decide if he already is a cholo. Does he want to be a cholo, or does he want to break free of the mold he created for himself in order to live the way he was meant to live?

Don Quixote-type fantasies intermingled with Victor’s hazy memories of his father, along with stories of his life, are pieced together to show four years of his struggles to discover who he is and what he wants to be. Though I wasn’t a big fan of the book, I did enjoy the author’s portrayal of Iliana as a strong, independent woman. She knew what she wanted, and went for it full speed ahead, the complete opposite of Victor. She didn’t let feelings get in the way of her future, and I admire her for having a goal and sticking to it.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“Because of the sun” Jenny Torres Sanchez

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Published January 3, 2017. Delacorte Press. 261 p. (Includes “Author Note.”)

BecauseOfTheSunDani grew up with Ruby, a mother who hated and blamed her for everything that went wrong in her life. She was a mom with an itchy foot, constantly moving from place to place, always with a different man on her arm. She wore skimpy clothes and drank a lot, and Dani hated her. She hated herself for hating her until the day Ruby was mauled to death by a bear and Dani was left alone with her mixed up thoughts.

Sent from Florida to live in New Mexico with an aunt she’d never known, Dani falls into the abyss of despair. She is alone, except for her dark thoughts and the bear that killed her mother, who seems to follow her everywhere. Dani must face her own hopelessness and learn to feel the anguish of others, because only through their pain can she live.

I found this book to be dark and full of symbolism, with some fantastical elements as seen through Dani’s Don Quixote-type imagination. As she constantly wanders in the sun and thinks contemplative thoughts about the bear, I felt that this book would be perfect to dissect in an English class. A high school English teacher would ecstatically tear it apart for her students.

Even though it was a little too complex for me, I will recommend it for ages 16 and older.

“Local Girls” Caroline Zancan

Rated 2 stars ** ARC. EBook. Riverhead Books. Published June 30, 2015.

LocalGirlsThe summer night their lives changed forever Maggie, Lindsey and Nina had gone to the Shamrock bar in their boring town outside of Orlando Florida to torture Lila and her group of insignificant friends. Before they could get properly started on the insults they had planned for the night they met Sam Decker, the actor they loved in every one of his movies and who they drooled over in magazines. In a town where nothing exciting ever seemed to happen, this was a monumental occurrence. As the three girls and Sam drank, exchanged stories, and dissected their lives Maggie goes back in time to educate readers about her friends and explain how they went from loving to hating Lila.

As the group dynamic is revealed, readers are taken through long rambling scenarios and flashbacks while leaving many unanswered questions. Though their night with Sam Decker would change their lives, “Local Girls” changed my life too. It took away 3 days of my life I will never get back.

I didn’t care for it, but will leave it up to you to Decide If You Want To Read It Or Not.

“One Lavender Ribbon” Heather Burch

Rated 2 stars ** ebook. 2014. Montlake Romance.

OneLavenderRibbonAfter a bad divorce Adrienne Carter used her settlement money to buy a rundown Victorian home in Florida she planned to renovate. One evening she came across a stack of love letters from William, a World War II soldier, addressed to someone named Grace. After spending time reading them, Adrienne became intrigued and decided to see if she could find William.

When Adrienne located William “Pop” Bryant, his irascible grandson Will didn’t take kindly to her because he thought she wanted to take advantage of his grandfather. It didn’t take long for his irritability to change to affection. For her part Adrienne kept her emotions in check, not wanting to fall for a man who reminded her too much of her first husband.

Soon more secrets began to be revealed. Knowing her involvement in solving them would arouse Will’s wrath, Adrienne forged ahead and soon found herself debating whether or not she should have let the past interfere with her present.

“One Lavender Ribbon” created likable characters like Pops and Sara, but Adrienne’s solving of so many secrets in such a short time gave it an unrealistic feeling. It was published by an Amazon imprint and needed editorial help with “taught” being used instead of “taut,” comma overuse and other errors.

Despite these problems it did have my interest, as I liked William and Sara. Perhaps if the author had told their story, and set it during World War II, I might have liked it better.

I’ll leave it up to you Adult readers to decide if you want to Read it or Not.