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Finding Our Way:Stories

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Saldana Jr., Rene. Finding Our Way: Stories. New York: Wendy Lamb Books, Random House Children’s Books, 2003. ISBN: 0-385-73051-9.

 

Finding Our Way is a collection of 11 short stories about universal themes that center on the lives of different Chicano adolescents.   The stories are written in a powerful way that makes the reader experience the dilemmas young adults go through everyday in school, at home, and away from home.  Some conflicts addressed in the stories include: conflict between teacher and student, conflict between one or more students, conflict between family members, and conflicts within one self.

Although some of the stories take place in Georgia and others in Texas, all of them deal with the importance each individual holds in its own society.  In Los Twelve Days of Christmas Mark wants to support his drama teacher in his idea of taking them class by class to practice their play.  None the less, he stays quiet.  He is afraid to speak up for what he believes, and lets the others take action.  This shows how many of us see and understand the wrongs of society, but we refuse to speak up.  We let others decided for us. 

The characters are realistically written to give shape to real life dilemmas such as love, death, and survival in today’s society.  “Whether following a straight and narrow path to adulthood or taking some dangerous curves, the characters are conceived with such depth and observed with so much compassion that their experiences may help forge paths for the audience as well.”--Publisher’s Weekly 

Alternative certainly makes the reader understand all the emotions and consequences intertwined in a teacher and student conflict in which the student is also involved with drugs.  The poem is an excellent tool to analyze Osvaldo’s feeling towards the whole situation; feelings ranging from bravado, to frustrations, to disappointment.   This selection can be used with middle and high school students to discuss how a person’s actions may affect not only their one life, but also the lives of others.  The students can then write a poem that reflects their own experiences and feelings. 

The stories are written by using some code-switching for English to Spanish to reflect the real conversations between Hispanics.  In The Good Samaritan, Rey uses the word dijo before repeating what Mr. Sanchez said to him in English.   Using some key Spanish words in a conversation is very common among the people of South Texas. 

While giving the reader great stories to read; the author is providing adolescents with excellent resources that can be used to understand the mysteries of society.  For example, in Finding Our Way, the boys in the barrio are trying to assimilate the unexplained death of a school boy, Danny De Los Santos, who disappeared for sometime and was later found dead.  Then, one of them, Pete, also disappears.  Although he is found alive, the boys are very angry at him for running away.   Pete explains to them the reason he had for running away from home.  See each individual forms a part in its won society, and each individual has a reason to act the way he or she acts.  Therefore, society in general has many conflicts and mysteries that are difficult to explain, but an individual can make better decision if he or she understands the way society works.

The variety and uniqueness of the collection of stories in this book gives us a good representation of the differences that exist among the South Texas society today.

 

Reference:

Publisher’s Weekly Review, 2003. At http://www.rsaldanajr.com found on July 7, 2005.

 

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