Bodega Dreams Essay

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Larisa Joseph

Diane Garbow

Book Review

December 4, 2012

Bodega Dreams is an excellent novel written by Ernesto Quinonez. Quinonez tells a touching story about the real life of Spanish Harlem neighborhoods. The main character Julio Mercado (also known as Chino) is Puerto Rican as well as Quinonez. The story takes place in Spanish Harlem, with the majority of poor Spanish people; a town over is Upper East Side Manhattan filled with wealthy white Americans. Chico stated, “a slum that has been handed down from immigrant to immigrant, like used clothing worn and reworn, stitched and restitched by different ethnic groups who continue to pass it on” (Page 161) The setting is very similar to Robin Sheriff’s Dreaming Equality. In Rio De Janerio, the wealthier Brazilians lived in the city while the poorer Brazilians lived in the favelas right outside of the city. Both plots have race and language as the reoccurring themes in the texts. The desire for change in both settings is very strong. Chino is not like the majority of the people in his neighborhood. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Blanca, who is pregnant. Both Blanca and Chino attend a local community college and plan to save up money for their arriving baby. Coincidently, the polar opposite of Chino is his best friend Sapo. Sapo was Chino’s childhood friend that is still involved with drugs and hangs out with the wrong group of kids. Through Sapo, Chino was introduced to Willie Bodega. Bodega was a real estate developer and a drug dealer in their neighborhood. Immediately after the two met, Bodega proposed a position for Chino in his upcoming business. Bodega tried to create cheaper housing for the locals with his drug money. He would buy older buildings with the money and renovate them for better use. Even though Chino was hesitant about the idea and questioned Bodega’s goals, he agreed to become apart of the plan. Thinking back to City of God, both plots relate by...
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