By: Andrew J. Rodriguez
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Publication Date: June 2014
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: August 8, 2014
‘Coming of Age’ takes on a unique meaning in this tale, as a young man learns from, basically, the town ‘gossip,’ about various stories regarding the residents of the small village he calls home.
Right off the bat the reader meets a truly unforgettable character. His name is Pedro, but he is referred to as ‘Old Man.’ Pedro is a homeless person who wanders the docks in the Cuban fishing village of Santa Rita. He is ripe with scent, and he is one of those storytellers who definitely uses the facts and weaves them expertly with his words of wisdom in order to help teach young Carlos about life.
Pedro, the Old Man, weaves ten tales. He begins with the story of a man named Don Patricio Mayor – a poor immigrant who became a nobleman. Of course, to accomplish this feat, Mayor didn’t always do the right thing. Mayor began as a personal assistant when he was young working for a boss named Juan de Dios. This job introduced Mayor to a world of lies and thievery. However, when a fight occurred between the two men, it took years for them to meet up again. And, when they did, Mayor was the boss. He hired Juan to act as a ‘thug’ to round up debts in Santa Rita. But Juan is still the ultimate liar and when he falls ill, Juan decides to make a mockery of the town, as well as his old assistant by using lies to convince the Church that he is basically a Saint. This is one tale that teaches a true lesson about how looks can definitely deceive.
Each and every tale that comes from Old Man Pedro teaches a lesson to Carlos. Whether it be the completely wrong lesson is up to the boy (and readers) to decide. As the story moves forward, we see Carlos deal with many things that occur in real life; from his first kiss to dealing with a bully to his debate and wonder over sex. Carlos defies authority, yet tries to keep his morals and values intact. And while doing all this, he comes to make a lifelong friend.
This author offers up entertainment, fun, sadness and thought. This is a book that teaches a great deal to any age group that reads it. The “Human Condition” is spoken about by many, but as technology grows and as temptation increases, everything can alter peoples’ minds as they attempt to adjust to a far different world, while keeping their faith and self-respect.
Carlos reminds people of their own battles; and the ‘Old Man’ is most definitely that familiar character for anyone who grew up in a small town where everyone from the con men to the saints to the church ladies to the local librarian always knew exactly what you were doing. Although the freedom was lacking there, the support was easy to feel. A small town is a family with both good and bad members – the foundation that never moved, as you did your best to grow up. And this particular author shows every corner of that foundation, even the ‘cracks’ in the marble pillars of society.
Quill says: Outstanding work that offers depth without burying the kindness, humor, and variety of life.