book review: The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

9780545325059_xlgTitle: The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

Author: Sonia Manzano

date: September 2012

main character: Rosa Maria Evelyn del Carmen Serrano

Rosa has decided that El Barrio, Spanish Harlem, doesn’t need another Rosa, so she has taken to using one of her middle names, Evelyn. It’s 1969 and Evelyn is losing her childhood perception of her world. She’s becoming more aware of race and status and with her grandmother’s recent visit, she’s more aware of relationships. Evelyn has given up working at the family’s bodega in exchange for working at a drug stop in a different neighborhood. Her daily walk has her seeing inequities in the neighborhoods and it is these differences that are bringing to life an organization called the Young Lions. Her grandmother, who was a revolutionary in Puerto Rico, becomes interested in the group and supports their call to action.

Her grandmother’s support of the group adds just that much more friction to the already tense relationship she has with Evelyn’s mother. Evelyn, rather than wanting to take sides is more interested in understanding what has caused the relationship to deteriorate. In forming an understanding of these women, of their collective history which is certainly tied to Puerto Rican history, Evelyn begins to better understand herself.

Manzano recently shared stories of how she developed her writing skills over the years. We only see her successes, but at the recent Joint Conference for Librarians of Color, Manzano shared the history of what it took to become a writer and the inequities she experienced in the school system echoed those she wrote about in The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano. The story has the feel of someone who is sharing a part of their life rather than a world they’re creating for us. Manzano incorporated historical events in the book and uses them not only to expose readers to the history, but to attract them to the idea of finding their voice by becoming involved in the community around them.

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano is an uplifting and very well told story!