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Bodega Dreams

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  2,032 Ratings  ·  237 Reviews
"A new and authentic voice of the urban Latino experience." --Esmeralda Santiago, author of When I Was Puerto Rican

In a stunning narrative combining the gritty rhythms of Junot Diaz with the noir  genius of Walter Mosley, Bodega Dreams announces the arrival of a writer who The Village Voice has already hailed as "a Writer on the Verge."

The word is out in Spanish Harlem: Wi
Paperback, 213 pages
Published March 14th 2000 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2000)
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Oct 05, 2008 Kate rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful story -- and great to use in the NYC classroom, as students many students will be able to relate to the cultural issues of East Harlem. Allusions to THE GREAT GATSBY made me a bit weary at first, but this novel questions what we assume about crime and justice continually, hitting on some of the same pivotal issues that Fitzgerald captured. It has great colloquial language and pushes the reader to consider the central question: "You may be able to take the man out of East Harl ...more
Writer's Relief
Feb 03, 2017 Writer's Relief rated it it was amazing
Let’s take a stroll with Chino in Spanish Harlem, where a Hispanic-American must choose between embracing a life of crime and violence or rising above it. BODEGA DREAMS is the story of a young man who needs a favor, and so he turns to the “king” of his New York City borough, Willie Bodega. Anything the community needs, Willie Bodega provides; but at what cost? Bodega intends to convince—or even hypnotize—his community into believing that his way is best. But he needs Chino to help him. As Chino ...more
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
Hello, everyone. I am tired and cranky and sick and stressed out today, so I'll keep this review rather brief. Although I feel bad because I haven't written a good review in a while. I'm not even in the top 100 reviewers this week. *Sobs* But anyway, enough of my pity party.

So … I was assigned to read Bodega Dreams for my Writing the Urban Experience class, which is this cool class where we read and write about … urban things. So yeah, it's exactly what the title of the course says. Only it's mu
Nov 17, 2008 LisaRose rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who like ideas
I am trying so hard to figure out Bodega Dreams. Oscar Quinonez created a work with multiple layers and textures but I am unsure if it is all smoke and mirrors. Ranging from, "Yeah, I know guys like that," to characters who are caricatures, Quinonez populates his first novel with peeps from the hood with dubious motivations and labyrinthine connections. These characters develop unevenly through the course of the novel and as the convoluted plot line unravels, they make choices that seem out of c ...more
Apr 14, 2008 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
"Bodega Dreams" is one of those books that don't have a catchy cover, however as you start reading the first pages the book drives you into wanting to read more and more. It cought my attention due to the fact that it talks bout how it all started back in high school when sapo and chino became friends,which I'm in right now it shows how high school memories were meanful to both . Throughout the book the character(chino) grows into a complete different character. From a imature teen into a grow ...more
Alex Robertson
Mar 30, 2015 Alex Robertson rated it liked it
I read this in one day. Very cool. Of me, not the book.
Oct 06, 2016 Darius rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Really great, engaging story with a nice twist at the end. It also further motivated me to make moves for my community
Jesse Bornemann
Mar 25, 2012 Jesse Bornemann rated it it was amazing
I bought Bodega Dreams after hearing Ernesto Quinonez tell a story on "The Moth," the NPR radio show that features famous and not-so-famous folks presenting personal narratives. Quinonez shared an episode from his awkward preteen years (redundant adjectives, I know) about the poetic justice he and his friends served up to a racist bully in middle school. Only, like the best stories, it's not really that simple. By the end of Quinonez's tale, the labels of "bully" and "victim" have been switched, ...more
Z Halv
Feb 20, 2013 Z Halv rated it really liked it
SPNS 351- Review (Nataza, Ethan, Zoe, Erin & Rjika)

Bodega Dreams by Ernesto Quiñonez is a Latino novel set in Spanish Harlem in the 1980s. At the time, Spanish Harlem was heavily affected by the energy crisis. The novel follows Chino, a young college student and newlywed living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to survive. His childhood chum, Sapo is caught up in a life of drug dealing and fast money alongside the neighborhood powerhouse, Willie Bodega. Bodega has a dream of cleaning up th
Billy Michaca
Jun 26, 2011 Billy Michaca rated it it was amazing
Speaking from a fan's perspective, Bodega dreams' urban cast of first generation Puerto Rican Americans kept me on the edge of seat. I couldn't put this book down it read more like behind the scenes documentary on the underbelly of urban crime and romance than the norm of an unaffected young adult drama. The plight of unrequited love borrows more from Gabriel García Márquez in substance than what I'd expect from a book recommended to me by my sister.

As Quinonez commonly refers to sites and soun
Sep 08, 2013 Jacqueline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una novela ingenua, entretenido, profundo, y conmovedor con un antihéroe memorable. Es narrada por Chino, un muchacho puertorriqueño que vive en Spanish Harlem. Inteligente y trabajador, Chino se encuentra en medio de dos mundos: el de su vida como estudiante en Hunter College y esposo de Blanca, una mujer pentecostal, con quien está tratando de superar lo pobreza de su vecindario; y el de la calle, representado por su amigo Sapo, quien tiene vínculos con el crimen. Por su amistad con Sapo, Chin ...more
Cam Folsom
Mar 13, 2016 Cam Folsom rated it it was amazing
With such a distinct title, I didn’t know what to expect going into this novel. As it turned out this book contained more than what meets the eye. Ernesto Quinonez did an excellent job creating a story full of symbolism, imagery, and internal struggles. From the perspective of a hoodlum in a rough Latin American neighborhood, this tale details the remaining good among all the evil of the hood. The main characters all change throughout the course of the story, especially the main character who di ...more
Cynthia Emelis
May 17, 2012 Cynthia Emelis rated it it was amazing
I read this in high school. I had an awesome teacher who introduced us to this book at first the book didn't appeal to me since I mostly read love stories/scary stories but this book had me on the edge asking questions and feeling proud that a person like chino had nothing and made something of himself. I recommend this book to everyone
Oct 27, 2014 Millie rated it really liked it
At first, it seemed this book would be filled with stock characters, but I soon recognized a lot of NY Latino history. I couldn't stop reading it. My mind is still in the story, and I finished it yesterday. I didn't guess the ending, but it made sense because all throughout the book, I kept asking myself, "Why?" I really liked this book!
Jun 08, 2012 Jayalchemist rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. To be honest this was the first book I read that wasn't required to be read because of school. This is the kind of book that any kid who was born or raised in NYC could relate to. I believe this book is a must read.
Apr 21, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
A great re-imagining of The Great Gatsby. The characters are riveting and it was a fascinating glimpse of a culture I am unfamiliar with.
Sheri Lutz
Jan 13, 2016 Sheri Lutz rated it really liked it
Beautiful story teller, give us us glimpse into Spanish Harlem.
Nov 16, 2016 Alondra rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book because of the ending. Their wasnt a real ending. Not all of the questions you have of the book were solved in the ending. For example no ones knows who actually takes over Bodegas business, or if Blanca comes back. All you could do is make predictions and make up your own ending.
Rachel Lichtman Castaño
This is pretty much what The Great Gatsby would be if it were set with Latino characters written by a Latino author. Except that this book spoke so much more to me than The Great Gatsby. Willie Bodega is much more admirable than Jay Gatsby, he's a man who not only wants to be with the woman he loves, but he has a vision for the neighborhood he grew up in that he loves so much. It's hard to decide if you like his character or not, but it's hard to at least not admire his vision for El Barrio. 10/ ...more
Daniel Espinal
Nov 16, 2016 Daniel Espinal rated it it was amazing
This book is really good. It's the best book to read for people that are freshmen. Although, some things in this book have confused me but I wouldn't say the things that confused because of spoilers.
Feb 20, 2017 Elise rated it really liked it
Not saying everything about this book was believable, but I did enjoy it.
Hind Osman
Jan 03, 2017 Hind Osman rated it it was amazing
This book was magnificent, seriously. I understood this book better than the Great Gatsby (a book that it is often compared to). This book was easier to relate to and understand because I grew up as and around first/second generation immigrants. As opposed to the Great Gatsby where the characters were all wealthy, privileged and were not of color. For me, it was boring and unrealistic. None of the characters in the "classic" faced the struggles and obstacles that many immigrants encounter on a r ...more
Jan 03, 2017 Tuan rated it really liked it
“Bodega Dreams” by Ernesto Quinonez was a very thrilling and suspenseful book. It reminded me a lot of Conan which I watched a lot of as a kid. I enjoyed the aspects of this book involving crime, and the twisted, but feel-good ending it offered. The predicament Chino, the protagonist, was in make the story more meaningful. The way he tried to balance two cultures in his life was very relatable. Chino is a loving character that gave up a lot of things for his relationship because of his loyalty. ...more
Dec 19, 2013 Osvaldo rated it liked it
Shelves: latino-lit
I don’t know what I expected from Bodega Dreams, but clearly what I got wasn’t it. It is an uneven novel. It has some strong insights into life in el barrio and its various tensions and contradictions, but at the same time Quiñonez’s writing doesn’t quite seem up to delivering it consistently.

The biggest problem is that a lot of the dialogue, upon which so much of the neighborhood character and culture rests, comes off as kind of stilted, and as such does not convey the relationships that carry
Keith L
Nov 10, 2009 Keith L rated it really liked it
The book that I am currently going to talk about is possibly one of the books I will read in my high school years. As a sophomore, I have to learn how to expand my reading and this book is a benchmark of my expansion.
This book is about a young man named Julio, living in Spanish Harlem. He tells reminiscent stories as background towards the real climax of the book. After he finds a woman and an apartment, he still needs to help to lifetime buddy, Sapo. Sapo was always a negative influence to Ju
Dec 16, 2016 Jgknobler rated it it was amazing
Reading some of the reviews here, apparently this novel is loosely based on the Great Gatsby, but that went over my head. I found it a lively and fascinating look at the East Harlem of the 90's, with a delightfully funny and flawed protagonist and a plot about competing interests of virtue and crime and a poor community's attempts at self-preservation in the face of real estate developers.
Dec 28, 2015 Dimas rated it liked it
In the mid to late 90s an interesting boom happened. A number of young writers of color were publishing books that were written in a voice that was true to his or herself and the milieu he or she grew up in. These writers weren't comprising their voice for mainstream readership; mainstream readership were coming to them. (Think Paul Betty's White Boy Shuffle or Junot Diaz' Drown.)

Bodega Dreams was published in 2000. However, it was part of that boom: Bodega Dreams is one of the few books that t
Feb 21, 2013 Skifreemt rated it really liked it
Taylor Drummond
Grace Caldwell
Kylee Firlit
Eddie Gantzer
Bodega Dreams
Bodega Dreams by Ernesto Quinonez is a quick and easy read, but also intriguing. It gives a unique look into El Barrio, a Puerto Rican neighborhood in East Harlem. The neighborhood is a lower class area with economic despair, which Bodega is trying to fix. Bodega is a selfish man, but also a heroic person. Bodega Dreams is an interesting take on what makes the difference between a hero and a villain. It looks into the themes o
May 05, 2014 Jailener rated it really liked it
This story is about a group of people from Harlem who want to do good in life but some of them end up doing the wrong stuff to get to their goals. In the story one of the characters, named Chino is a college student who is having a hard time maintaing himself in Harlem, he has a friend named Sapo who ends up getting caught up in a wild life of drug dealing and thinking that street popularity is what is important. Willie Bodega is one powerful man throughout the story because he runs everything a ...more
Jodeci Gonzalez
Oct 12, 2012 Jodeci Gonzalez rated it really liked it
dear m.s Charan,

I Think that you would love this book called "Bodega Dream". Bodega Dreams is base on how an drug lord use to sell drugs in Spanish Harlem.But with the dirty money he was making he was giving back to the people of spanish Harlem.For an example he would pay for peoples college tuitions and also he would buy buildings and rent them to people for an afforable price.In the story Bodega dreams, was to change the ways that people judge the people in Harlem and to remodel the paths th
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Book Review 1 2 Feb 19, 2013 10:19AM  
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Ernesto Quiñonez (born 1966) is an American novelist. His work received the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers designation, the Borders Bookstore Original New Voice selection, and was declared a “Best Book” by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
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“i think you're worth all the souls in hell. thass thousands of more souls than there are in heavan. So you're worth a lot, pana.” 8 likes
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