Barrio Boy is the remarkable story of one boy's journey from a Mexican village so small its main street didn't have a name, to the barrio of Sacramento, California, bustling and thriving in the early decades of the twentieth century.
Galarza's saga begins in Jalcocotán, a mountain village just south of where the Gulf of California joins the Pacific. When the turmoil precipitated by the Mexican Revolution begins to escalate, the family leaves their tiny village in search of safety and work in a nearby city. Subsequent moves introduce the boy to the growing turbulence of the Revolution and the uncertainties of city life. He experiences firsthand the difficulties in finding work in a strife-torn nation, securing an education, and keeping a close-knit family intact. When his family finally settles in Sacramento, young Ernesto encounters new experiences and influences that will forever shape his outlook and broaden his horizons.
With vivid imagery and a rare gift for re-creating a child's sense of time and place, Galarza gives an account of the early experiences of his extraordinary life that will continue to delight readers for decades to come.
"Ernesto Galarza has written a long and vivid memoir of his childhood. The only disappointment in the book is that it does not go on for another couple of volumes to recount its author's rare career in redefining America." —The New York Review of Books
"With its suspense, humor, and occasional sadness, Barrio Boy is splendid reading." —American Anthropologist
"[A] personal document where historical self-explanation, philosophical self-analysis, and poetic self-expression merge to tell with irony and humor a social story: an individual's participation in one of the grandest migrations of modern times—the influx of Mexicans into the American Southwest." —Diacritics