Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Nobody's Son: Notes from an American Life” as Want to Read:
Nobody's Son: Notes from an American Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Nobody's Son: Notes from an American Life

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  199 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Here's a story about a family that comes from Tijuana and settles into the 'hood, hoping for the American Dream.
. . . I'm not saying it's our story. I'm not saying it isn't. It might be yours. "How do you tell a story that cannot be told?" writes Luis Alberto Urrea in this potent memoir of a childhood divided. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and an Anglo mother from
Paperback, 200 pages
Published August 1st 2002 by University of Arizona Press (first published 1998)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Nobody's Son, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Nobody's Son

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 449)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Erin Siegal
fucking outstanding!
Sarah Batchelder
This was an amazing book. I highly recommend it. It made me laugh on one page and almost cry on the next.

"My life isn't so different from yours. My life is utterly alien compared to yours. You and I have nothing to say to each other. You and I share the same story. I am Other. I am you.

So I've offered here a few words about my part of the journey. We're all headed the same way after all. Whether we chose to walk together or separately, we're going toward night. I am lucky. I have the angels of
I love the language in this book; it is truly lyrical. Great Book. Great Author....
Lars Guthrie
Noting my enthusiasm after reading the extraordinary 'The Hummingbird's Daughter,' my father lent me this collection of autobiographical essays by Urrea. Each was previously published in a magazine, but most work together as a unit. Four tales of Urrea's childhood in San Diego and Tiajuana are the strongest. The last essay, 'Leaving Shelltown,' about a solo camping trip, didn't fit, while 'Down the Highway with Edward Abbey,' which uses a road trip in Abbey's Cadillac to fondly reminisce about h ...more
Thanks to the Fishtrap writers workshop, where Urrea is a member of the advisory board and frequently shows up to read and teach, I have fallen in love with the writing of Luis Alberto Urrea. Whether he’s writing nonfiction, fiction or poetry, his writing crackles with humor and brittle truths that have you laughing, nodding in recognition, and weeping at the same time. In this memoir, told in a series of essays, he tells about his youth in Tijuana and San Diego, growing up with an unpredictable ...more
Nobody's Son will take your hand and lead you home.

America is home. It's the only home I have. Both Americas. All three Americas, from the Arctic circle to Tierra del Fuego.

I'm not old enough to write my memoir. Yet I'd feel as if I'd cheated if I didn't try to share some observations. So many of us live in a nightmare of silence. We are sons and daughters of a middle region, nobody's children, marching under a starless flag. Some of us wave a black flag of anarchy, and others a red flag of rev
This book actually gets a 3.5. Why doesn't goodreads have half stars? Anyway, a really good book by the author of the Devil's Highway which I read earlier this year and highly recommend. The content and style are very different from the Devil's Highway as this is an enthographic book about the author's life growing up in Tijuana/San Diego to multiracial parents in the 1960s. It's broken into three sections and within those, vignettes about Urrea's life. My favorite was about the family who he pa ...more
I felt a deep and very personal sense of kinship with Luis Alberto Urrea as I read this book. As a fellow blue-eyed "half" Latino myself, I recognized the dichotomies he so eloquently expresses about what it means to be someone who does not look like people expect. I'd seen Urrea interviewed by Ilan Stavans of Amherst College years ago and had been planning to read his books ever since. I'm pleased I began with "Nobody's Son", which is poignant, sharply observed, and blissfully reverent and irre ...more
This book was not what I expected. It is far less about growing up in a "clash of cultures" than about growing up in a horribly disfunctional family. It is filled with painful-to-read stories of cruelty to animals and small children (including the author). While there were a few bright spots, this book mostly made me very sad. And very appreciative of the loving parents that I was fortunate enough to be born to. I hope that Urrea's adult life has been much happier than his childhood.
This set of writing gives a lot of insight into the author's other works. If you want to see the heart beating below the surface (the one with the border patrol truck misquoted but still rumbling), you will find a lot of aha! moments in this. Recommend reading this AFTER reading several other titles, reading it before might give away too many plot points!
This is a collection of short stories that capture different moments in Urrea's life. I like just about anything written by or about him but was hoping for something more like a memoir. Nonetheless, "Nobody's Son" gives good insight to how his childhood and, in particular, his parents, influenced his point of view.
I would have preferred to start this knowing that it was really a series of short stories as opposed to a memoir. There was some beautiful writing but the scenes from his childhood were remnants, not a cohesive story. Read it more like a long poem.
Adam Gossman
What an amazing voice! He has a way of describing something so different from my experience by making it familiar. All the while he is doing this he is courting me with his amazing grasp of language and complete vulnerability. Wow.
Urrea paints pictures with his words. The child of an Anglo mother and Mexican father, Urrea talks about life between two different worlds. The book made me wonder what kept him sane and focused.
Michelle Lemaster
May 12, 2009 Michelle Lemaster rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans, like me, of Urrea
Great opportunity to get to know more about where Luis Alberto Urrea is coming from. I can really identify with his mixed heritage and the challenges herein.
Ron Mohring
This was my first encounter with Urrea's prose. Truly well-crafted. I savored every page. Looking forward to reading more of his work.
A bittersweet memoir, a rich tale of growing up resilient in spite of family strife. A heartbreaker!
Carol McCarthy
Sep 22, 2007 Carol McCarthy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all
I am teaching parts of this book this semester. Urrea's honesty is captivating.
writing the raw...has heat fire heart and beauty.
Feb 05, 2011 Genevieve rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ezequiel Pena
some parts are fantastic
Staph Book Club Pick
Kay marked it as to-read
Oct 01, 2015
Lila marked it as to-read
Sep 26, 2015
Jim Cantu
Jim Cantu marked it as to-read
Sep 20, 2015
Carlos Posada
Carlos Posada is currently reading it
Sep 18, 2015
Alissa marked it as to-read
Sep 15, 2015
Vanessa Barrera
Vanessa Barrera marked it as to-read
Sep 14, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 14 15 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • By the Lake of Sleeping Children
  • Woodcuts of Women
  • Loverboys
  • Zoot Suit and Other Plays
  • Black Mesa Poems
  • Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States
  • Two Badges: The Lives of Mona Ruiz
  • Truth Serum
  • Drink Cultura: Chicanismo
  • ... y no se lo tragó la tierra ... and the Earth Did Not Devour Him
  • Critical Race Theory: An Introduction
  • Occupied America: A History of Chicanos
  • Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology
  • The Color of Love: A Mother's Choice in the Jim Crow South
  • Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years: Resources for Teaching about the Impact of the Arrival of Columbus in the Americas
  • Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa
  • Always Running
  • The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands
Luis Alberto Urrea is the award-winning author of 13 books, including The Hummingbird's Daughter, The Devil's Highway and Into the Beautiful North (May 2009). Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, Luis has used the theme of borders, immigration and search for love and belonging throughout his work. A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005 (nonfiction), he's won the Kiriyama Prize (2006 ...more
More about Luis Alberto Urrea...
The Hummingbird's Daughter The Devil's Highway: A True Story Into the Beautiful North Queen of America Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border

Share This Book