Reviews for Boy Kings of Texas : A Memoir


Booklist Reviews 2012 June #1
Growing up in Brownsville, Texas, Martinez felt like a giraffe in a community of mules. Smart and sensitive (he sheds gallons of tears), he was an outsider. So, in a larger sense, were the other members of his family, who identified as Mexican but was regarded by the community as being American. As a result, Domingo felt he belonged in neither culture, which is a theme that unites his otherwise episodic coming-of-age memoir. Another, more visceral theme is machismo, a tradition in Mexican culture and that Martinez finds repugnant and that separates him from his overbearing father. Such experiences and others--children were regarded as a commodity to be swapped or traded--make the book an informal exercise in sociology as well as a memoir. Weighing in at more than 450 pages, the book extends from Martinez's preschool years to his thirties. Though too long, it nevertheless coheres and offers experiences that readers will find informative and emotionally engaging. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 June #2
Seattle-based Latino journalist Martinez recalls his youthful adventures in the 1980s romping around the border town of Brownsville, Texas. Though dirt poor, the author's Mexican-American family continually demonstrated resilience, solidarity and humor. His parents, "children themselves" right out of high school, began having kids in the late-'60s. In a household of "Sisyphean wetbacks" struggling to make ends meet, Martinez was the youngest. Much like his siblings, he was light-skinned, didn't identify with Mexican culture, and spoke English, an anomaly in a primarily Spanish-speaking region. From his family's crowded house emerge resonant stories about a tough, gun-toting, spell-casting Gramma; the death of the family dog and his father's swift retribution; his two older sisters, "the Mimis," who dyed their hair blonde, dressed in designer labels and adopted a "Valley Girl" affectation; his hard-drinking, abrasive father's drug trafficking; shenanigans with friends; turbulence with close older brother Dan; and melancholy recollections of beatings from his parents and what he can remember of their sordid histories. At more than 450 pages, the personal remembrances may prove wearisome, even as the narrative brims with candid, palpable emotion. Still, Martinez lushly captures the mood of the era and illuminates the struggles of a family hobbled by poverty and a skinny Latino boy becoming a man amid a variety of tough circumstances. A finely detailed, sentimental family scrapbook inscribed with love. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 June #4

Opening with the brutal tale of the murder of a beloved pet avenged, Seattle journalist Martinez's memoir of growing up in Texas in the 70s and 80s along the Mexican border is an emotional roller coaster rendered in exquisite detail. Struggling with his cultural identity and the usual kaleidoscope of adolescent emotions, Martinez felt like a perpetual outsider. Even more marginalized by his family's emotional reserve and propensity for violence (physical as well as emotional), he eventually finds solace in substances before moving to Seattle to live with his older brother in hopes of a more peaceful and productive life. But old habits die hard. Once there, Martinez finds himself sucked into an emotional whirlpool once again; the violence he thought he left in Texas follows him, as do his demons. Though written with a strong, clear voice, Martinez goes into often lengthy digressions, frequently losing his momentum and, occasionally, the thread of conversation between writer and reader. Still, this fascinating and sometimes horrifying account of growing up Hispanic in a Texas border town is an artfully rendered take on family, community, and one man's journey to adulthood. (July)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

Opening with the brutal tale of the murder of a beloved pet avenged, Seattle journalist Martinez's memoir of growing up in Texas in the 70s and 80s along the Mexican border is an emotional roller coaster rendered in exquisite detail. Struggling with his cultural identity and the usual kaleidoscope of adolescent emotions, Martinez felt like a perpetual outsider. Even more marginalized by his family's emotional reserve and propensity for violence (physical as well as emotional), he eventually finds solace in substances before moving to Seattle to live with his older brother in hopes of a more peaceful and productive life. But old habits die hard. Once there, Martinez finds himself sucked into an emotional whirlpool once again; the violence he thought he left in Texas follows him, as do his demons. Though written with a strong, clear voice, Martinez goes into often lengthy digressions, frequently losing his momentum and, occasionally, the thread of conversation between writer and reader. Still, this fascinating and sometimes horrifying account of growing up Hispanic in a Texas border town is an artfully rendered take on family, community, and one man's journey to adulthood. (July)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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