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Dark Dude

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  474 ratings  ·  120 reviews

He didn't say good-bye. He didn't leave a phone number. And he didn't plan on coming back - ever.

In Wisconsin, Rico could blend in. His light hair and lighter skin wouldn't make him the "dark dude" or the punching bag for the whole neighborhood. The Midwest is the land of milk and honey, but for Rico Fuentes, it's really a last resort. Trading Harlem for Wisconsin, tho

Paperback, 439 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published August 29th 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,003)
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I literally could not put this book down. I had homework, I could practice piano, I could eat lunch--but I didn't care. This book was that good.
Rico is growing up in the mid-to-late 20th century. He lives with his parents and sister in either Harlem or the Upper West Side (it isn't specific). The thing about Rico is he doesn't look like the rest of his family. He's Cuban-Irish, but he looks really really really Irish. And the rest of his family looks really really really cuban. In that time in
3.5 stars

This review originally appeared at

When I was in year eight I had an English teacher who would have us write essays in class, and would then commend students who could hand in a piece of work free of spelling mistakes. I will never forget the time he held up an error-free essay, then looked the student in the eye and said, "but it's not as though you took any risks, is it?"

Our teacher would have preferred our work to be peppered with mistakes so long as it m
Adolescence is tough--you want to be an individual, to find out who you are, to be seen as special and unique, but you also don't want to be too different, to be noticed and hassled--you want to fit in. Your fellow teenagers can be very hard on both themselves and each other. And groups have their own sometimes menacing lives.

Well OK--adults may not admit it, but it's often like that for us too--but somehow it's more intense for an adolescent, especially in the forced and self-contained environm
Book Concierge
Audio book performed by Armando Duran

This is a young-adult novel from the Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love.

Rico Fuentes is a “dark dude” – which means that he is a very-light-skinned Cubano – living in New York City’s Spanish Harlem. Blond, with hazel eyes and freckles, his appearance gets a lot of attention from the tough guys in the neighborhood, who hassle him for being a “whitey.” The fact that he’s slight of build, and prefers books and music to hang
YA Book Recommendations
My reaction in one gif:

Full review:
Dark Dude is a novel by a Pulitzer-prize winning author, so it might be strange I was apprehensive about read it, but I was. I thought that perhaps Hijuelos wrote a YA book only because YA sells, rather than for any interest he has in YA. It happens a lot. But I think this book really came from his heart, which is what makes it work.

Set in the 1960s, the book follows the white-looking Cuban Rico, and his decision to move to Wisconsin, following his friend Gilbe
Maria Martinez
In this novel for young readers author Oscar Hijuelos creates a main character named Rico Fuentes, a Cuban-American, to communicate how someone young could deal with issues of self-identity and with ndfficult decision regarding what is right or wrong.

Rico Fuentes is white although his Cuban family is racially mixed (black and white). He confronts prejudice from other Latinos who are not white and from black American youngsters. In the minds of those other youngsters, you cannot be Latino if you
Travis Mccluskey
Do you like books that sound so real that you mix them up with your real life? If your answer is yes, Dark Dude, by Oscar Hijuelos, is the book for you. I feel this book is so deep with truth and pure realism, it sucks you in to its story, making you feel like a character yourself.

Dark Dude about Rico, a 16 year old Cuban boy, who is often mistaken for a white kid, living in the ghetto of New York City. His best friend, Gilberto, who is 18, wins a lottery ticket for $70,000. Gilberto has plann
Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos is an amazing fictional book based upon racism. The book takes place in New York City, where Rico, A latino 17 year old lives. Although he has a cuban history, he was born with pale skin. After he gets jumped while walking home from school that recently had a shooting for the fourth time that year, Rico decides to run away with his long friend, Johnny. The book is very interesting, with mild language here and there. The author describes that no matter where anybody is ...more
Kendy Francois
Mar 31, 2014 Kendy Francois rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teenagers
Being a teenager is difficult; you wish to be an individual, find out your identity, be special and unique, but you don’t also to seem different from others alike yourself. You want to be known and fit in society. So what would you do if everyone in your neighborhood or in Harlem treated you like a punk because of your skin color? Would you run away to another department where folks’ skin is similar to your own without any intention of ever returning to your home state? Rico Fuentes explores th ...more
David Flynn
I really enjoyed reading this novel. Throughout the novel there were prominent themes of the importance of friendship as well as the importance of family. The novel really highlighted the idea of a families unconditional love which really spoke to me. This novel. Not only has strong themes of family and love but also ones of how race can affect real world situations. While highlighting important themes the novel also had some plot twist to keep the reader engaged. Over all I loved reading this n ...more
Yusuf Bayraktar
Uzun zamandır okuduğum en etkileyici kitaptı açıkçası. İlk kısımdaki, Rico'nun New York'taki hayatı öyle bir anlatıma sahipti ki artık ben bile evden kaçmak istemiştim. Aslında ben biraz çabuk sıkılan bir okuyucuyumdur, bu yüzden ilk kısımda sürekli sefil bir hayat yaşayan Rico'nun hayatı beni sıkmaya başlıyordu, derken ikinci kısım geldi ve iş ilginçleşmeye başladı; Rico'nun en iyi arkadaşı ile New York'tan otostop çekerek Wisconsin'e kadar olan yolculuğu... Bundan sonrası bende asla unutamayac ...more
Maritza Arteaga
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anna Knox
I think I just read this at the wrong time. I don't think I was in the mood for it. I had hard time getting into it, a hard time connecting the main character, Rico. Maybe it's just not cup of tea. However, it was very well written and it raised some very important questions about cultural and ethnic identity. It was very interesting to read and think about. I'd definitely recommend, if those are things that would appeal to you.

Drugs- lots of drugs.
language- plenty of that too
I can really only give this a 5 on the Peach-worthiness scale. It was a fairly enjoyable portrayal, in the slice of life sense, of a light skinned Cuban-American boy named Rico, living in Harlem and then later a small town in Wisconsin. But that's really all that happens, fairly uneventful late 1960s trials and tribulations of a boy that doesn't fit in, is fed up with school, and hates to see his best friend turning into a junkie. When his folks are ready to send him to his uncle in Florida and ...more
Ron Bajrami
Dark Dude is about a person named Rico who lives in the Bronx in NYC. He is in a Bronx high school and he is being bullied a lot. The main character is Rico and the setting is from Bronx to Wisconsin. Rico's main internal conflict is him being grounded by his parents. His main external conflict is him being bullied by other people. After these conflicts Rico moves to Wisconsin to find his best friend Gilberto.

In the book I made a text-to-world connection. In the book, Rico does a lot of drugs an
Rico Fuentes is a second generation Cuban American living in Harlem during the hippie times. Rico looks very white and sticks out in his neighborhood. He gets jumped by blacks and Latinos. Gilberto looks out for Rico. Gilberto is like an older brother and father figure. Gilberto wins the lottery and moves to Wisconsin for college. Rico and his junkie friend, Jimmy, are fed up with New York and hitchhike to the Midwest. Rico is a fan of Mark Twain's Huck Finn and is excited to start his adventure ...more
Stanley Bennett Clay
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Oscar Hijuelos maintains his reputation with this lovely coming-of-age tale of a Cuban-American 16-year-old who drops out of school and escapes the mean streets, hopeless educational institutions, and a stifling (if loving) family in late 1960’s Harlem and seeks sanctuary on a friend’s farm in rural Wisconsin.

Teenager Rico Fuentes, our smart and hopeful narrator, is getting hassled from every angle. The son of dark-skinned Cuban immigrants, Rico’s light skin, ligh
Jodi Mae
Oscar Hijuelo's Dark Dude has a similar story line and plot to Sherman Alexie's, Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, but lacks the humor and poignancy of Alexie's book. While Alexie's protagonist and main characters are memorable and thoroughly engaging; Hijuelo's characters lack that certain punch and passion. Yet this is a worthwhile book to read; enjoyable in it's own right. Rico, who is Cuban, becomes weary of life in the Bronx and the poverty and despair of his neighborhood. He als ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
El Templo de las Mil Puertas
"Un cubano rubio, de piel blanca y con pecas. Así es Rico Fuentes, de padres cubanos, de procedencia modesta y oscuros de tez. Su hermana es mulata pero él tiene unos rasgos que le acercan más a los blancos (por un antepasado irlandés) que a los negros. Por ello, sufre un acoso permanente de quienes lo consideran un dark dude, expresión despectiva que, como el autor explica al comienzo del libro, designa a un latino de piel tan clara que parece casi un whitey o un pinky, términos que usan para d ...more
Meh. Red flags should come up all over the place when author Hijuelos says he wishes this were a book he had read when he was a teen. That's a problem because A) it's pompous and self-serving to admit, and B) this book kinda sucks, which doesn't say much for his taste. Set in the late 60's, Rico is a light-skinned Cuban who has all kinds of problems in New York City, what with his parents and drugs and his drug-addicted friends and violence and blah blah blah, so he moves to a farm in Wisconsin ...more
Cana Rensberger
How many teens have wished they could escape the darkness of their lives and live in a land of milk and honey? Rico Fuentes does just that in DARK DUDE by Oscar Hijuelos.

Rico is one hundred percent Cuban, yet he struggles daily to identify with his Cuban peers. His mom and little sister have brunette hair and cinnamon colored skin. His dad has both dark wavy hair and dark eyes. But Rico, with hazel eyes and fair skin with freckles, looks white. In Harlem, that pretty much guarantees daily harass
Breanna Fitzpatrick
This book really wasn't for me. Although the plot was good, it dragged on and and on. Not only that, but the characters weren't developed very well. Only Rico, the main character, was developed.

This book takes place in the Bronx. I didn't realize that it was supposed to take place in the 1970's until after I read some reviews. I noticed the language was a little off to take place near our millienum, but the language of 70's was used so sparsely, that it really didn't take place. Even the charac
I will like to say that Oscar Hijuelos did a good job in creating a book that make the charters seem realistic and relative-bl. The protagonist of the story is Rico. Rico was born in The United States but his parents are Cuban making him a Hispanic. I'm also Hispanic because i was born in California and my parents are from Mexico. Rico grew up in New York and I grew up in Oakland two cities that have a high crime rate. The settings of the book takes place in New York and then Rico runs away to W ...more
Rico not-so-Suave is a 15-year-old kid from New York City who has to put up with the usual- school shootings, drug dealers, and muggings. What's worse, he's a Cubano who looks white thanks to his Irish Grandfather's genes, so his fellow Latinos, as well as the neighborhood blacks, mess with him. When his mentor Gilberto wins the lottery and heads to school in Wisconsin, opportunity knocks and Rico gets his chance to start anew.

The scene shifts from the mean city to the Badger State, but Rico qui
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Cana Rensberger for

How many teens have wished they could escape the darkness of their lives and live in a land of milk and honey? Rico Fuentes does just that in DARK DUDE by Oscar Hijuelos.

Rico is one-hundred-percent Cuban, yet he struggles daily to identify with his Cuban peers. His mom and little sister have brunette hair and cinnamon colored skin. His dad has both dark wavy hair and dark eyes. But Rico, with hazel eyes and fair skin with freckles, looks white. In
Dark Dude has such a great cast of characters. They all have their problems, but it is Gilberto and Rico, who takes Jimmy with him too that decide to leave their lives in Harlen and strike out for a better life in Wisconsin. Rico is a light Cuban American and this causes him so many problems; he is bullied becdue to his light skin, family tensions with his moms' constant hassles, a father who drinks too much and can't make enough money to support his family and a rundown, violent school. Gilbert ...more
Bob Redmond
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1990 (for THE MAMBO KINGS PLAY SONGS OF LOVE), Hijuelos writes a young adult novel in the style of Alexie's ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN.

In DARK DUDE, the main character is (like Hijeulos) a Cuban-American who grows up in Harlem in the late '60s. Like Hijuelos, the protagonist Rico is fair-skinned. This makes him the object of ridicule from Latinos and Blacks as well as Whites. Eventually it's family strife, however, that drives him to run away to a
Unable to deal with the pressure of living in Harlem, the frequent jumpings by just about everyone in his neighborhood because he’s a light-skinned Latino, Rico Fuentes leaves for Wisconsin. Rico can blend in the Midwestern farm country with his light skin so well he’s generally mistaken for a white. It’s just what he needs, and the longer he stays on his friend’s farm, the more he thinks he’ll never go back to New York. But appearances aren’t everything, and even if Rico is mostly enjoying his ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Oscar Hijuelos (born August 24, 1951) is an American novelist. He is the first Hispanic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Hijuelos was born in New York City, in Morningside Heights, Manhattan, to Cuban immigrant parents. He attended the Corpus Christi School, public schools, and later attended Bronx Community College, Lehman College, and Manhattan Community College before matriculating into and
More about Oscar Hijuelos...
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love Mr. Ives' Christmas Beautiful Maria of My Soul The 14 Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien Empress of the Splendid Season

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