This week on Goodreads.com, our Content Coordinator, Chelsea Brogi shared her thoughts about her latest read.
“Theres those goddam spics I was telling you about.” This chilling first sentence of Aaron Michael Morales novel, Drowning Tucson, sets the tone for the rest of the book. Morales creates a very dark and alarming tale of young thugs and the inner workings of South Tucson.
Each chapter in this breakthrough novel is written through a different person’s eyes, allowing the reader to get a sense of each character’s story. It is also written with six different ways to be read, with each section titled after a possible reader’s view.
Felipe Nunez is the newest (and reluctant) member of the Latin Kings gang. Felipe does not want to join the Latin Kings and admits before his initiation
“It made him sick the way they suck up to him. Especially because he knew they all talked shit behind his back and were probably bursting with anticipation for the after school initiation. All except Ricardo. He was the only one who knew Felipe’s secret– that he didn’t want to be in a gang. That he didn’t want to spend his life pretending to hate the cops when really he was afraid of them. If Felipe joined the Kings, he would be one forever.”
Throughout the novel, we watch him find his place within the gang, and see him transform from an innocent young boy to a violent man. It is heartbreaking to see this boy, who loves books and learning, turn into everything he never wanted to be. Morales shows the power of peer pressure here, by having Felipe join even though he doesn’t want to. The boy is innocent to begin with, he loves his mother, loves to learn, was confused by Rainbow the prostitute when she tried to solicit him. Yet, his brothers were very prominent members of the Latin Kings, and therefore he was expected to follow in their footsteps.
Rainbow, a young prostitute, also discovers the trials and tribulations that come with living in South Tucson during the 1980’s. She lives through molestation, rape, and eventually prostitution. Her life is incredibly tragic, and yet she manages to continue on, with only her strength and will to survive.
Morales creates a tragedy out of his characters lives, creating this tragic novel for his readers. It is uncomfortable to read, leaving readers feeling awkward and thoughtless at the end. This novel truly depicts the lives of those gang members and south Tucson natives.
You can read Aaron Michael Morales’ story A Shoebox. A Thimble. A Onesie in our Issue 7.