Parrot in The Oven

by Alyandra and Consuelo

Author, Publisher, and Year

Victor Martinez

HarperTrophy and 1996


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Why should you buy this book?

People should buy this because It can be a very inspiring book. It is not a book that demands a great amount of intelligence from the reader because it is written in a form that can be read by many people of ages, but the story is truly genuine. It focuses on the life of Manuel Hernandez and his family's struggle with problems such as a racism, poverty, and violence.

Quotation from book:

"Dad believed people were like money. You could be a thousand dollar person or a hundred-dollar person-- even a ten-, five-, or one dollar person. Below that, everybody was just nickels and dimes. To my dad, we were pennies."

Dad sees the world in terms of money—or not having any money—and having different amounts goes along with having different types of power. So being a "million-dollar person" means having tons of power, and we're guessing that being "pennies" means having no power whatsoever.

"The twenty-dollar bill Dad took from me went into his drinking bankroll. Once he started a binge, he wouldn't stop until every cent was drained from his pockets."

The Hernandez family doesn't have much money, so it's a huge deal when Dad takes the twenty bucks that Mr. Hart gave Manny for school supplies and squanders it on drinks at the pool hall—it has the whole family feeling pretty mad. Manny's dad might think that his family is "pennies" compared to million-dollar folks, but he's certainly not helping to save some extra cents here and there. He's even treating Manny like he's worthless by taking his school money

Theme : Poverty

For the Hernandez family in Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida, poverty doesn't mean not having a home, nor does it mean completely going without food. But don't start thinking that struggling with poverty is a cakewalk for them either. Because they don't have much money, these folks need to be extra resourceful, wearing hand-me-downs and getting creative to make ends meet. Dealing with poverty can be seriously tough on family relationships in this book, especially when it comes to who rolls up their sleeves and works… and who doesn't.

Reviews from Other People on Why You Should Read This Book!!

Erin from GoodReads said :

One of my graduate school professors thought that my students would really like this story, and that they would be able to connect to it as a result of the Latino main character. The teenage male protagonist is engaging, and this novel depicts his "coming of age" struggles (to which many of my students could connect).
Some of my Latino students did not like Parrot in the Oven, however, because they felt that it only told the "typical South of the Border story" in which immigrants cross the Mexican border into Southern California and work as agricultural laborers. I found this comment heartfelt and incisive. Most of my Latino/Latina students were born in El Salvador, and their families did not cross the Mexican border nor did they work as agricultural laborers. While this novel tells an important story of some Latinos' lives, it is equally important to remember that this is not the story of all Latinos in America.