Pros: Character-driven gritty plot that reveals conflicts in culture, masculinity, and two teens coming of age
Cons: Confusing areas of plot and Weak ending,
American Son: A Novel is a story about a lot of things: growing up in an “inner city”, establishing an identity, and masculinity. It confronts the issue of a Filipino family whose members are trying to create their own path toward an American dream. For some that means bull dogs and gangsters (the older brother), for others that means hard work (the mother).
The book begins with a letter which establishes one of the conflicts of the story. Members of the family (I believe the uncle?) believe that the two main characters in the story, Tomas and Gabe will not reach their full potential in America, but the Phillipines. He cites Tomas’ growing relationship with the “wrong crowd” and Gabe’s susceptibility to it.
That conflict, though, is part of other conflicts that occur between
Gabe and his brother, Gabe and himself, and Gabe and the rest of other boys out there. This tied with the gritty, realistic first-person narration from Gabe, makes this akin to another book I read, “Chango’s Fire” by Ernesto Quinonez.
What differs in this book (and I think one of its faults). Instead of providing a series of fluid plot sequences, the book provides a series of random events. These events tell me more about the character, but didn’t really add to the overall meaning of the story. That was followed by a weak ending which didn’t really resolve anything.
About the Author: http://www.brianroley.com/