Southern Colorado is home to “little mocos” Manito and his cousin Bea, both curious and sensitive, both tragically doomed and longing to live anywhere else. United in their agreement to escape onion fields and Ortiz family ghosts, the two stumble into their teen years with a stubborn brand of bad decisions and petty crimes. Against the cold and gray backdrop of the looming steel mill, Manito and Bea eventually piece together the unbending reality of their multi-generational family trauma, including an unanticipated close connection to local murderer Raymond “Cornbread” Vigil.
The Ortiz family stories are minimal and elliptical in Little Mocos and reflect heartbreak and bleakness, but they also mirror strength and resiliency. Manito does not simply recover painful memories from his family; he begins to re-envision them. It is how Manito finds his own way to manhood and a glimpse of life outside of the county of orphans.
John Paul Jaramillo, the award-winning author of this novel in stories, was listed as a Top 10 Young Latino Author to Watch and Read by Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature in 2013.
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I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.
Little Mocos is a novel in the form of short stories about Manito and his cousin Bea. They live in the Southwest and are both orphans who are shuffled from one family member to another. They have a depressing life and a severely dysfunctional family.
The author has a good writing style but there didn’t seem much of a point to the overall story. It seemed more like just a bunch of short stories about the same sad family.
I did learn quite a few Spanish words as I read. I kept my laptop ready so I could look them up as they came along.
About the Author
John Paul Jaramillo’s stories have appeared in numerous publications, including the Acentos Review, Palabra, A Magazine of Chicano and Latino Literary Art and Somos en Escrito. He is the author of the story collection The House of Order, which was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and the novel in stories Little Mocos from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read.