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SYNOPSIS Raul Luis Ruly Cruz is a young Mexican American who lives in El Paso just across the Rio Grande from Mexico home of his ancestors and some of his current relatives As he grows from awkward adolescent to manhood he negotiates the precarious borders of family tradition and identity trying to find his own place in the Chicano community and in the larger world This is an engaging and moving story of growing up in a borderland that is not only geographical but cultural and psychological as well


10 thoughts on “Cross Over Water

  1. says:

    The title of Richard Yañez’s novel Cross over Water could refer to the physical act of immigration for many Mexican Americans But 12 year old “Ruly” Cruz’s crossing begins when his childhood home is inexplicably “left behind like a lizard tail in the desert and can only end when he recognizes his role in the future of the borderland As a boy Ruly wanders through his adolescence without the framework of cultural tradition and community indulging in fast food and fantasies of gridiron triumphs He passes the usual milestones of teenage life first parties and puppy love alienation and embarrassment but he is unfulfilled by his job a cart boy at a local retail store living in a casita behind an elderly woman’s house eating his microwave dinners and watching television When he discovers a public park operating as a migrant work camp and re designated as People's Park his restless spirit is mended by voluntary acts of compassion and his life is forever changedYanez's rendering of El Paso is nuanced and colorful almost Zen like in its thoughtful intensity the author strikes the target without aiming The character of Ruly represents the rich inner life contradiction and mystery of the city Raul is El Paso personified aware of the past but always heading to the future because 'the past could deport you to a place in your memory And no matter how much you declared yourself to the present you were hopelessly uprooted' Yañez's prose resembles an awaited letter with its calm intimacy and directness His writing addresses the effects of suffering and growth upon the human spirit The binary relationships between Mexico and America tradition and change manhood and adolescence press upon the narrative of Cross Over Water but it is a story of loss as well as regeneration like the desert lizard with the missing tail


  2. says:

    Cross Over Water is the coming of age story of “Ruly” Cruz a Mexican American boy growing up 0n the US Mexico border in El Paso Texas The book begins following Ruly at the age of 12 when he’s still an aloof tween whose primary preoccupations are masturbating and hanging out with his cousin Laura Following his mother’s promotion Ruly is uprooted from his childhood home into a new house in the suburbs throwing the routine of his life into disarray As he eases into young adulthood Ruly begins to mature into a thoughtful young man who is slowly embracing his roots and seeking out his past Through it all El Paso is just as important a “character” as Ruly is isolated in the middle of a desert right across from Juarez Mexico the city is Ruly’s playground home and teacherIt was refreshing to come across a Latino coming of age story that didn’t revolve around the immigrant or child of immigrant experience The El Paso described in these pages is warm and vibrant and Yañez ushers his young protagonist from adolescence to adulthood with compassion and nuance As Ruly “crosses over” into the next stage of his life you can’t help but root for him as he builds bridges between his cultural past present and futureThis is an abridged version of my review click here to see full text


  3. says:

    A multi faceted and enjoyable coming of age novel In one sense it's very localized the story of a young Mexican American in El Paso His family has been in the US long enough that his parents were born here he has no personal knowledge of Mexico in fact he speaks Spanish poorly It's tied to a particular time and place the neighborhoods and streets and foods and smells of El Paso late 80s early 90s are very important On the other hand it's the universal tale of a young man coming to know himself relating to others discovering sex love trust and intimacy One oddity though it's told from a boy's point of view from age 9 to age 20 his parents are curiously absent they make occasional appearances but aren't nearly as important here as in many coming of age novels Not a criticism just an observationI wouldn't hesitate to recommend this for an adventurous high schooler sex is present but handled well no parental advisory required for someone 15 or older The story is told well full of incidents that capture and hold the reader moving fast with good narrative drive It is however literary fiction in the best sense language retains its primacy the way the story is told is as important as the story Full of intelligence and ideas well expressed I recommend it