Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book 40 - Far from Gringo Land by Edward Myers - Santo Domingo, Mexico

Rick Dresner, a senior in high school, is spending his summer vacation with the Romero family, who live in a barrio in the hills of Santo Domingo, Mexico. He'll help them build a house on their land, and in return, they'll provide room and board and help Rick improve his Spanish. It sounds simple enough and the Romeros are family friends, yet as Rick makes his way up the hill to their house he is wondering if this whole plan was a terrible idea. He hardly knows these people and he definitely knows nothing about construction.

Rick was right about the construction project, it turns out to be a lot tougher than he had imagined. All of the construction materials have to be carried up the steep and narrow street to the Romero's house. He has to learn how to make a brick wall that is straight and strong. He has to work harder than he has ever worked before. At the same time language and cultural differences lead to awkwardness and misunderstanding. Rick realises he really is a Gringo who has a very wealthy and easy way of life in his homeland. When he falls for a rich American girl from a very different part of town life gets even more complicated.

This is a great story to help students appreciate differences in culture. I think our International students will relate to Rick's embarrassment and awkwardness coping with Spanish and the Mexican culture which is so very different to his own.