Motorcycle Ride on the Sea of
Tranquility by Patricia Santana
Its April 1969, and fourteen-year-old Yolanda Sahagún can hardly wait to see her favorite brother, Chuy, newly returned from Vietnam. But when he arrives at the Welcome Home party the family has prepared in his honor its clear that the war has changed him. The transformation of Chuy is only one of the chal enges that Yolanda and the rest of her family face. This powerful coming-of-age novel, winner of the 1999 Chicano/Latino Literary Contest, is a touching and funny account of a summer that is stil remembered as a crossroads in American life. Yolanda and her brothers and sisters learn how to be men and women and how to be Americans as wel as Mexican Americans. A captivating portrayal . . . .the novel is chal enging, warm, provocative, often humorous, always engaging.--Rudolfo Anaya Patricia Santanas Motorcycle Ride on the Sea of Tranquil ity wil take you on an exhilarating journey through the tortured landscape of the late 1960s, and show you how the stench of a brutal foreign war and revolutionary winds at home swept into the lives on one Mexican American family in Southern California. . . . Santana takes her place among those new Chicana writers who are refashioning the face of American literature for the twenty-first century.--Jorge Mariscal, University of California, San Diego, author of Aztlan and Viet Nam: Chicano and Chicana Experiences of the War My Personal Review:
Breaking from transparent prose dominant in university and journalistic writing, Patricia Santanas Motorcycle Ride on the Sea of Tranquility breathes life into fragments, self-indulgence, long and unwieldy sentences, and ironic thematics that serve raise questions rather than answer them. Most invigorating about Motorcycle. is the adaptation of fragments intertwined into a web of meaning rather than transparent linear prose. Santana, whose teenage narrator Yoli is always scribbling furiously in a diary, writes a novel that reads like a grown-up diary from her adolescent memories. Yolis novel/diary about a diary adds an ironic edginess to growing up in the sixties, suffering through the pressures of correct behavior in a Mexican-American family, enduring the psychological breakdown of her favorite brother Chuy who came back from Vietnam permanently damaged, and questioning traditional answers from parents as wel as ideological answers such as chicanísmo and feminism prevalent at the time. Yolis big sister, Carolina, who sermonizes about Chicano politics and feminism, apes the feminist voice of early 90s Chicana writers that slightly misses the mark with working-class Mexican immigrants and Mexican American women they hope to reach but sounds great to the university -educated and upwardly mobile. Unlike her sister Carolina who preaches ideological answers, Yoli focuses on asking questions: Are we Mexicans or Americans? What should we reject about being a women in a mans world? What roles are available women in a Mexican-American family? There is no motorcycle ride or any tranquility for Yoli in the novel/diary, only her hope to ride with her psychotic Vietnam Vet brother whose smiling thorazine stupor cant be made right by religion or ideology --both of which are incomplete. Edgy and interesting. Great first novel--buy it! James C. Jupp Georgia Southern University
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