Book Reviews

Book review: The Madonnas of Echo Park.

Researchers estimate the illegal Latino population in the U. S. A at 11 million. These people pick the fruits and vegetables in California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, cook the meals in thousands of restaurants, wash the dishes, clean homes, deliver food, work in wineries, slaughter chickens, and even pick up the garbage.

They do everything Americans are unwilling to do, less expensively, and without complaints. They also pay taxes, although they are illegal.

The American system is set up so that any illegal person who works must pay taxes, but cannot benefit from old age security, or other benefits the states routinely extends.

If these people were not in the U.S.A, vegetable and fruit prices would probably double, restaurant meals become considerably more expensive, and in general living would be more expensive for millions of households.

The Madonnas of Echo Park in Los Angeles describes how illegals (aliens as the Americans call them) are treated and under what circumstances they survive. Some return to their homelands, others endure difficulties and send money to their families, yet others become criminals, or are caught due to road accidents caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Money transfer companies earn millions through these illegal immigrants and employ thousands.

All of these problems fail to deter them and in the process, losing their Latino character and personalities.

Brando Skyhorse born and bred in Los Angeles looks Latino and most Americans treat him as an illegal, which helps him understand how he and all his compatriots are perceived.

This book in eight sections ids the story of some of Latinos and each section is fascinating in its own way, describing how the offsprings of illegals want to fit into the mainstream American life. Some do not want to learn Spanish. When they are at home, they prefer to respond to their parents in English, but attempt to understand Spanish. Their reason is not so much to learn the language but to pick up what their parents are talking about.

Brando Skyhorse’s writing is more vernacular and uses a lot of Latino expressions which are relatively easy to decipher after a while. The narrative flows well, is informative, insightful, if not captivating.

The book is an excellent mirror of the modern big city American culture and what it represents.

Interesting, entertaining, informative, and revealing, this book belongs in the library of all interested in multiculturalism and the problems it represents.

Highly recommended!