||Dream House Press
||Sep 1 1999
Travel with Art Rodriguez as he dreams of his past.
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He experiences an unpleasant childhood full of difficult obstacles that could have profoundly impaired his chance for a normal life. Life appears hopeless during those young years as he struggles to discover who he really is and at the same time contends with his dictorial father. Travel with him as he takes you through the California Youth Authority, the prison system for young offenders. Although he grows up under such trying circumstances, he still finds enjoyment and excitement growing up in San Jose's east side. Experience with him his childhood as he reflects back on both pleasant and unhappy times. In this story that brings laughter and tears, both young and old can find comfort knowing that when life appears bleak and there seems to be no hope, events in life can change. There is a way out of a desperate situation. See how a bad relationship between a father and a son can change from resentful to an affectionate one.
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Reader Reviews for "East Side Dreams"
|Reviewed by juan pacheco
|Reviewed by Art Rodriguez
|Paper 0-9671555-0-9 January 1999 266pp
"East Side Dreams is the debut and memoir Art Rodriguez, of a Latino American who survived growing up on the rough side, at odds with a dictatorial father, and once an inmate of the California Youth Authority--a prison system for young lawbreakers. Reflections on both happy and miserable times of his childhood, growing up, learning maturity and finally making a comfortable life for himself fill this heartfelt and revealing personal testimony. Highly recommended reading for young adults, East Side Dreams has justly earned the distinctions of being named the "Best First Book of the Latino Literary Hall of Fame", and has been honored as one of 200 Best Teenage books in the United States by the New York Public Library System."—The Midwest Book Review
"This review is for Forgotten Memories, however, East Side Dreams is also reviewed. Growing up in San Jose, California, Arturo Rodriguez and his brothers and sister endured an abusive father, their parents' unhappy marriage, and their father's absence after he returned to Mexico. Rodriguez coped as best he could, but his drinking and drug use, hanging out with friends, fighting, and being in the wrong places at the wrong times led to his incarceration in California's prison system for young offenders. Against all odds, he put his past behind him, married and had a family, and worked hard to overcome injustices and start a successful business. After his retirement, Rodriguez began writing about his life and his family. This book is a sequel to East Side Dreams (Dream House 2001), published in Spanish as Sueños del Lado Este. In this second autobiographical book, he writes about childhood pranks and misdeeds, his mother's near fatal illness, his parent's divorce, the birth of his first child, and how his parents eventually become friends.
The writing here is unpolished but sincere in tone, and the reminiscences and descriptions and vivid and true to life. Neither didactic nor preachy, this memoir explains how he grew to understand his father and other relatives whom he loved despite their flaws. His message for young readers is clear. It is possible to survive and over come injustices and hardships. Rodriguez maintains a web site at www.eastsidedreams.com and invites readers to visit, view his picture album, and perhaps send him an e-message. He will answer."—Voice of Youth Advocates Magazine
This review is for Forgotten Memories, however, East Side Dreams is also reviewed. Voice of Youth Advocates Magazine: Growing up in San Jose, California, Arturo Rodriguez and his brothers and sister endured an abusive father, their parents' unhappy marriage, and their father's absence after he returned to Mexico. Rodriguez coped as best he could, but his drinking and drug use, hanging out with friends, fighting, and being in the wrong places at the wrong times led to his incarceration in California’s prison system for young offenders. Against all odds, he put his past behind him, married and had a family, and worked hard to overcome injustices and start a successful business. After his retirement, Rodriguez began writing about his life and his family. This book is a sequel to East Side Dreams (Dream House 2001), published in Spanish as Sueños del Lado Este. In this second autobiographical book, he writes about childhood pranks and misdeeds, his mother’s near fatal illness, his parent’s divorce, the birth of his first child, and how his parents eventually become friends.
The writing here is unpolished but sincere in tone, and the reminiscences and descriptions and vivid and true to life. Neither didactic nor preachy, this memoir explains how he grew to understand his father and other relatives whom he loved despite their flaws. His message for young readers is clear. It is possible to survive and over come injustices and hardships. Rodriguez maintains a wib site at www.eastsidedreams.com and invites readers to visit, view his picture album, and perhaps send him an e-message. He will answer—Sherry York.
EAST SIDE DREAMS by Art Rodriquez is full of energy and the struggles that the author himself endured while growing up on the east side of San Jose, California in 1966.
I enjoyed reading this inspirational novel derived from the memories of a teenager who is now a mature and successful businessman.
EAST SIDE DREAMS has been translated into Spanish to reach the Spanish speaking population in the United States.
As I read the troubling times of Art Rodriquez I couldn’t relate to many of his predicaments, but I certainly felt compassion toward him and thanked God for my “normal” life.
Mr. Rodriquez touches your heart as you read his passionate book of self-taught lessons.
As you read EAST SIDE DREAMS, which captures the hopelessness of growing up with an unpleasant childhood, keep in mind that this life drove the author to his true passion—writing!
The author, Art Rodriquez has been honored by The New York Library System to be on the “2001 Books for teenage List” for his book East Side Dreams. He was also given “The Mariposa Award-Best First Book” at the Latino Literary Hall of fame for this same book. Bravo!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I encourage young readers to read it, as there are plenty to learn from this book. It will bring tears to your eyes.
--Reviewed by Jennifer LB Leese . ASTORYWEAVERs Book Reviews©, http://www.geocities.com/ladyjiraff/aswbr.html
Paper 0-9671555-2-5 August 2002 166pp
"Capably written for teenage readers grades 7 through 11 by Art Rodriguez, Forgotten Memories is the story of his having been a young man growing up amid difficult conflicts in San Jose, California. From life-threatening risks such as drowning and knife fights, to the cutting harshness of vituperative words, Forgotten Memories reflects the drama of learning how to survive, grow, and accept personal responsibility. Forgotten Memories is recommended as a powerful coming of age story. Also highly recommended is Art Rodriguez previous memoir, East Side Dreams."—The Midwest Book Review
"Filled with an atmospheric warmth for his Hispanic heritage. In the tradition of Romeo and Juliet, Rodriguez tells the true love story of his great-grandparents"
A National Magazine for The Contemporary Hispanic Woman
"It is the early 1800's. As the result of an illicit affair, a young Spanish priest finds himself a single father after the mother dies at childbirth. To avoid the shame, the family exiles the priest and his newborn daughter to Chiapas, Mexico, where he gives the child to a friend to raise. Thus begins the life of Lydia Fuentes in the New World. As a young woman Lydia falls in love with ranchhand Francisco Rodriguez and runs away to marry him in spite of her guardian's strong disapproval. With great fortitude and resourcefulness, the young couple manage to outmaneuver her guardian and stay together to start the Rodriguez family. This story is the true beginning of author Art Rodriguez's family."
Central Library 285 E. Walnut St., Pasadena (626) 744-4066
The Monkey Box by Art Rodriguez (92 RODRIGUEZ,A ROD)
A family history and a love story. In the 1800's, two young lovers in Chiapas, Mexico struggle to be together, despite the efforts of their families.http://www.ci.pasadena.ca.us/libraryteens/November%202002.asp
Lowrider Magazine January 2000
How one man turned his misfortunes into a success story.
By Jessica Y. Lopez
"I would like to apologize to anyone who was affected in a negative way or pained as a result of my actions during my youth,” states Art Rodriguez. Life dealt a triple-punch during his teenage years. At the age of 14, he went to juvenile hall for stealing beer, and at 15, he ended up there again for stealing a car. At the age of 16, he found himself behind bars a third time for fighting at a party where two rival gang members were killed.
Because he didn’t want to be known as a “snitch,” Rodriguez was faced with a life sentence. Later, those charges were reduced and he served a total of three years for this crime, two of which he spent at the hard knock Preston School of Industries in Ione, California. Art’s libro, East Side Dreams will take you on a memorable journey through those grueling years, while at the same time, Rodriguez vividly recalls the painful memories of his unpleasant childhood experiences, especially those of an abusive father.
“My father had his way of raising us,” admits Art. “Even though he was abusive when we were growing up, we loved him very much. Once we asked him, as adults, why he was so hard on us and he answered, ‘Mijo, you guys were little devils. I couldn’t treat you normally. You guys were wild.’ ” But from all of his life’s tragedies, Rodriguez emerged a changed man and as a result, you will find an inspiring, heartfelt story that has touched the lives of thousands of people.
After getting out of the “system” and facing many more difficult experiences, Rodriguez started his own business in 1985, Number “1” Disposal in San Jose, California, where he was born and raised and where he resides today with his wife, Flora. But it wasn’t until just recently, at the age of 45, that Rodriguez, who is dyslexic, taught himself to read, write and type. Ultimately, these self-taught lessons led him to discover his true passion: writing. He has since opened up his own publishing company, Dream House Press and has just released his second novel, The Monkey Box. LRM was honored to interview Art Rodriguez.
LRM: So tell us a little bit about the younger years that you write about in your book.
AR: Well, I used to get in a lot of trouble. My brother Eddie and I were really wild kids. And after my mom and dad divorced when I was about 15 and my dad left to Mexico, times got really difficult for my family and especially my mom. I did a lot of partying, fighting and just hanging out with the wrong crowd as you read in the book.
LRM: A good part of your book takes place during the times you spent at Preston. What was that time like?
AR: Those few years were a long time for me. A lot of things happened while I was there. I almost died there. You just want to be home. You long for your family and friends and you just count the days ’til you get out.
LRM: Your family and friends, are they the people who you apologize to in the beginning of the book?
AR: Yes, all of this bad stuff that I did to my family, my mom and to people I didn’t even know. All of this stuff didn’t bother me until I got older. When you’re young, you don’t really realize the damage and pain that you cause people.
LRM: So when did you discover that you were a writer?
AR: That came about after I started my first business, Number “1” Disposal. I didn’t know how to write or spell and I didn’t know the first thing about grammar. So, of course, I would have the girls in the office write my letters for me, but one day I had to have them rewrite a letter for me four times and I just got so frustrated that I started to teach myself. I bought a laptop computer and I thought to myself, “Well, what do I write about?” My wife said that I was a good storyteller, so I started to write my life story, every day, 30 pages or whatever. I gave those pages to my wife. She didn’t want to hurt my feelings, but she would tell me that my writing was just one big run-on sentence. I basically taught myself about periods and commas and spelling by going to night school and to the library and eventually, East Side Dreams came out of it.
LRM: What was the overall message that you are trying to get across with this book?
AR: While I was writing, I wanted it to be an inspirational book for kids who are having a difficult time; kids who other people may say are “losers,” because I was one of those kids who people used to call a “loser” and look where I am now. Sometimes, kids who are in trouble say to themselves, “What’s the use, I’ll never get out of this,” but you get out of life what you put into it. Kids see their life in the present, right now. It’s hard for them to focus on the next 20 years, so I wrote this book so that they could read about my whole life. It’s never, ever too late to change, if I did it they can do it too.
LRM: So what is it that you can say to kids today who may be walking down the wrong path?
AR: The main thing that they have to do is stop and think about the people that they are going to hurt: their mother, their brother, their families. The most important thing should be their family and what their actions are going to do to them. One time, my mom came to see me in jail and my brother told me that he hears her crying for me every night and I said, “Why is she crying? I’m the one locked up!” I didn’t realize then how much I hurt her. So maybe if kids stop to think about the people that they are going to hurt, they’re likely to think twice about what they are doing.
The Book Reader
AMERICA’S MOST INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF NEW BOOKS
THE MONKEY BOX
By Art Rodriguez. Dream House Press, paper, $12.95. An emotion-packed novel that captures the power of love in old Mexico and follows it to California. Rodriguez dug into his rich family history, flushed out riveting characters and wrapped this tale in reality. He begins the story nearly 200 years ago in Spain, where readers learn that a priest has fathered a daughter. They flee to Mexico where the padre arranges for a family of a doctor in Chiapas village to raise his daughter Lydia. Along comes a handsome worker and love strikes hard. Francisco “Chico” Rodriguez and Lydia know that, one day, they will start a life together. Disagreements develop over respect, pride and honor, and they soon erupt. The doctor and a mob club Chico nearly to death. Then comes the guns. Chico and his intended manage to escape to another town and marriage plans are set. “Tomorrow Lydia will be my wife and there will be nothing (the doctor) can do!” But questions burn the mind. What of the disrepute brought by Lydia’s father the priest? Why did the doctor so zealously seek to prevent this marriage? What’s this about Lydia’s large inheritance? Yet another showdown develops in the new village, but police prevent a massacre. And the couple begins a new life with six children, the oldest of which is a strapping son. The author thrust readers into revolutionary activities that fuel emotions in 1916, and reveals the contents of the Monkey box that sat unopened for so many years. Inside, papers that make this family special and add even more mystery to this evolutionary story.
WHAT TEACHERS ARE SAYING
Dear Art Rodriguez,
We are encouraging students to expand their thinking and knowledge by reading, and to have a choice in what they are reading. Your first book, East Side Dreams, had been a popular book with our students. It isn’t only popular because of the descriptive life style, but what it offers in the way of modeling what a person can make of their life, in spite of difficult circumstances.
We have found that students who have said that they never have read a complete book before, have taken your book and read it from cover to cover. This is a milestone for a person in high school who has never before read a novel. When we hear students say, “I want to read another of these books,” or “What else did he write?” we know that the door to reading for pleasure is being unlocked. What better goal for us as educators than to have students develop a love for reading.
After students read a book, we have them do a report or a book review to share with other students. What a joy it is for us to hear students asking other students to let him check out the book after they finish reading it. Books like East Side Dreams seem to hook our kids on reading and they are asking to read more. What more could we ask?
Gail DeRosset, Classroom teacher, Muriel Wright High School, San Jose, CA
Dear Mr. Rodriguez,
You are indeed one of my heroes and I cannot tell you how often I have thought of you. A year ago I received an email at my school with names of contemporary writers. We bought your book: EAST SIDE DREAMS and I read it to the class. We each identified with you in different ways. We cried, laughed and learned from you, in different ways. At the time, I thought my students were challenging and had difficult lives. Little did I know that my job as an educator and a counselor would take me to meet more challenging students! I am presently working at Crossroads. It is a Community Day High School, in SJUSD. The students that I have face many trials and tribulations. They are lovable, special, fragile and tough... all in one. I will only have them for a year before they return to their perspective high schools. Their needs are many! Everyone of them are learning from their mistakes and then they will move on! AND then... lead productive, successful lives as responsible members of society. You have been one of my very favorite heroes. You have had a serious impact in their minds and lives. I read a story a day to them and then they write in their journals. You are already, one of our friends!
Sincerely, Elizabeth Bliss, Program Coordinator Crossroads
Art Rodriguez’s inspiring stories
As an English teacher at Branham High School, I have found Art’s books to be excellent sources of inspiration in my classroom for several reasons. First of all Art’s story about his difficult, young life in East San Jose, holds my student’s attention. They can also easily identify with the struggles of Art’s teen years because some of them are going through the same struggles. Even though Art’s teen years were back in the sixties, his style of writing hooks students imaginations as they put themselves in Art’s world – a world not so different from their own. Art discusses the timeless themes of trouble with parents, issues with authority figures, loyalty among friends and the confusion surrounding moral choices for teens.
Whether students are highly skilled readers or reluctant readers, Art’s book holds their interest and inspires them to become better readers and better people. Joanne Whitaker, Branham High School English Teacher. CA
The Midwest Book Review. May 7, 2002
East Side Dreams by Art Rodriguez is full of energy and the struggles that the author himself endured while growing up on the east side of San Jose, California in 1966.
I enjoyed reading this inspirational novel derived from the memories of a teenager who is now a mature and successful businessman.
East Side Dreams has been translated into Spanish to reach the Spanish speaking population in the United States.
As I read the troubling times of Art Rodriguez I couldn’t relate to many of his predicaments, but I certainly felt compassion toward him and thanked God for my “normal” life. Mr. Rodriguez touches your heart as you read his passionate book of self-taught lessons.
As you read East Side Dreams, which captures the hopelessness of growing up with an unpleasant childhood, keep in mind that this life drove the author to his true passion—writing!
The author, Art Rodriguez has been honored by the New York Library System to be on the “2001 Books for Teenage List” for his book East Side Dreams. He was also given “The Mariposa Award-Best First Book” at the Latino Literary Hall of fame for this same book. Bravo! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and encourage young readers to read it, as there are plenty to learn from this book. It will bring tears to your eyes.
James A. Cox
The Midwest Book Review.
|Reviewed by Vanessa
|best i have ever seen in my whole life.|
|Reviewed by ElMexikan
|Badass book...i can relate to his life...a sad one!|
|Reviewed by grim
|once i read the first chapter i couldnt put it down cuz i can relate to all the stuff and i live down here on the east side of sJ...|
|Reviewed by nancy c
|east side dreams was cool and very realistic. i lived in california to and yeah it sounds like L.A.|
|Reviewed by Alfredo
|I read your book it made me remember the thoughts i had when i us to live by Lee Mathson i think your book is so cool that eveybody should read it.|
|Reviewed by nancy
|i realy like your book, i think it was very cool.|
|Reviewed by tj
|Reviewed by Velda Saldana
|I grew up in this neighborhood, Art could have been my older brother. As I read this I know it is written by someone who lived there, the way he describes the area, streets, and atmosphere is exactly as I remember it. Also I think he really touches on some of the realities that teenagers were dealing with at the time.|
|Reviewed by Marina
|This is one of the best books i have ever read!|
|Reviewed by lupe
|Hi like this book a lot and I recomend it to everyone.|
|Reviewed by agustin
|I think this book gives you a heads up for someting u might want to do
|Reviewed by juan h.
|i realy like your book alot, thank you for writing another book.