Booktalks

Downtown Boy Booktalk

  • Grades: 6–8

Sometimes it seems like everything and everyone Juan’s life touches turns to trouble.

Juan’s life has holes in it. A hole where his Papi should be. A hole where his home should be. A hole where his friends should be. And how he and Mami live in San Francisco with his cousins while his Papi is in Mexico trying to find himself. Life is all too confusing. His loco cousin Chacho wants him to do things that are sure to get him in trouble—stealing pies, fighting, throwing beer bottles into a crowded bar—and he says if Juan doesn’t go along, he’ll look like a chump, not a champ. But Mami is determined to keep Juan out of trouble, so when policemen come to the door asking about three boys throwing bottles, Mami moves them away from Harrison Street and the gang called the Harrison Street Boys, away from Chacho. But the tiny apartment still isn’t home, Papi still isn’t home, and trouble still just seems to know where Juan lives.

Life is nothing but confusion. How will Juan figure out how to make sense of it all and learn to fill those holes in his life? Visit San Francisco in the summer of ’58 and find out.

This booktalk was written by librarian and booktalking expert Joni R. Bodart.

  • Subjects:
    Life Experiences, Hispanic and Latin American
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