Book Review: Chulito by Charles Rice-Gonzales
So pretty much every LGBT book list ever was recommending that I read Chulito.
So I did, and it was a sound choice.
The amount of information that gets packed into the novel’s 317 pages is amazing. It’s a lush story that has a beginning, a large middle body, and a tidy ending. I found myself yearning to read it when I was doing other things. Chulito, the main character, is around 16 years old and lives in the Bronx. He’s a sweet boy at heart, but has fallen into a bit of a dangerous path of dropping out of school and becoming the neighborhood drug dealer’s right-hand man. He’s a bit of a teen thug and spends his days on the street corner clad in designer clothing (bought with drug money), drinking, and shooting the shit with the neighborhood guys.
The book is packed with information, and any attempt to further summarize it would take hours. What I will say, however, is that Chulito is a coming of age novel. So it turns out that Chulito’s not as heterosexual as he’d always assumed. In his process of coming to terms with this, issues such as sexism, heterosexism, responsibility, transphobia, and more are also addressed in the book. Read it.
There’s some “thoroughly described” sex in it, which (oddly) made me a little uncomfortable. I’m thinking that might be because the character is a teenager and I’m moments away from 30, and starting to feel like there’s more of a divide between me and young people. Even though at that age I was doing similar (girl versions of that) stuff and would have found those sections totally awesome. At first I just figured the author was being a letchy old man, but then I read more about him and changed my mind.
(My ONE big critique: the “clean-up” of the story is a bit too tidy to be completely believable. Granted, I stated earlier that the ending was satisfying- and it was. But it was also kind of soft.)
Find a copy at the LIBRARY! YAY!