Parents' Guide to

Dark Dude

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Misfit escapes inner city. Moving identity story for teens.

Dark Dude Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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Is It Any Good?

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Kids say (1):

Pulitzer-winning author Oscar Hijuelos's first young adult book is really for older teens and adults. Its subject matter is unusual: a white Cuban boy from Harlem washing up on a run-down farm in Wisconsin. Though it runs more than 400 pages of not a lot happening in between small incidents of nasty violence, and has more coolness and emotional distance than most YA books, the pages fly by, and it's engrossing from beginning to end. It's easy to see why Hijuelo's won that Pulitzer (for The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love) -- the man can write.

Rico may steal comic books from the store, but he is mostly a nice kid who just wants to get along, get an education, and get out. Hijuelos adeptly sets Rico up in a no-win situation, then allows him a sort of winning, but at a cost that may be more than Rico is willing to go on paying. While few readers will relate directly to the particulars of his situation, most will relate to Rico himself, and his outsider status is universal.

Book Details

  • Author: Oscar Hijuelos
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Atheneum
  • Publication date: September 16, 2008
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 12
  • Number of pages: 439
  • Last updated: July 12, 2017

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