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Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  1,790 ratings  ·  301 reviews
Dad believed people were like money. You could be a thousand-dollar person or a hundred-dollar person – even a ten-, five-, or one-dollar person. Below that, everybody was just nickels and dimes. To my dad, we were pennies.

Fourteen-year old Manny Hernandez wants to be more than just a penny. He wants to be a vato firme, the kind of guy people respect. But that's not easy
Paperback, 240 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by HarperCollins Espanol (first published 1996)
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 ·  1,790 ratings  ·  301 reviews

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Sep 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Run-of-the-mill novel that sounds at first like an autobiography but is actually not. (Mega bummer!) It would be forgivable if the TRUE life story was not all that enticing-- writing it down is the main thing, after all. But for a work of FICTION to be pedestrian, average (alcoholic father, hard working mother, lazy brother, work in fields, times at school)?

Well if it's labeled as Young Adult, then perhaps, like this novel, it might just win a National Book Award. It truly just might.
Charles Martin
Jan 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Winner of the 1996 National Book Award for Young People's Fiction, "Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida" is less a sweeping traditional novel and more a series of short character sketches. The poetic style, though beautiful and intriguing, leaves the reader feeling confused and disjointed, though this may be the point. Living in a poor Mexican-American project in California, Manny Hernandez attempts to navigate the minefield that is his life -- just as the reader attempts to navigate the short vignettes ...more
Oct 26, 2014 rated it liked it
I will be teaching this novel to 8th grade struggling readers this year, on the recommendation of a teacher friend of mine.

At first, I was less than impressed. Now that I think about it though, that might be because I have been living in dystopian YA fiction for awhile and am used to starting a book with a dramatic event (like a choosing). But as the story progressed, I found I liked the main character more and more, and I found that the rhythm of his life is much like the students I
Abdullah Yousaf
Sep 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Parrot in the Oven a novel written by Victor Martinez, talks about the life of Manny Hernandez who lives a tough life. Manny has a jobless and drunk father. An older brother named Nardo who who never could find the right job for himself. A mother who cared about him and wanted father to find a job. An older sister named Magda and a younger one named Pedi. Then there are some other characters such as the Garcia brothers, grandma and Frankie. This story's main setting took place in the projects wh ...more
Zack Lloyd
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
In the book Parrot in the Oven by Victor Martinez, Manny the main character, lives a hard life. All Manny wants is some respect, and where he lives it is not all that easy. Manny considers joining the Vato Firme a local gang that he's introduced to. But he's not sure if thats the best idea. Manny knows joining the gang could bring trouble.
There are many important characters in this book starting with Mann's mom. Who does not have a job and is constantly working around her house. Next, there is
Apr 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Hm, feels a bit unfinished. Had a lot of creative descriptions. But also had an abrupt and choppy flow, which was annoying. I felt the story could have been organized better.
Richard Knight
Kind of bland, and it doesn't really go anywhere as there's no real narrative. But it's interesting enough and it kept my attention, so that's saying something.
Lorena Meza
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It is safe enough to say that Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida is now one of my favorite books. This book is something different than what I usually enjoy reading but a little change does not hurt. I enjoyed reading the whole book and watching the main character, Manny, develop into the strong independent person he turns out to be in the end. I liked how the author wrote out the plot because this book was relatabe. The issues Manny faced which were poverty, abuse, and cultural discrimination are rela ...more
Steve Harbula
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Stylistically similar to Gary Soto, but without Soto's flair. The pervasive use of figurative language throughout the book is very heavy-handed, and at times feels more like a student exercise than a literary work. The main character has no real arc; there's no noticeable development to track. This would make sense in a true autobiography or memoir, which the book seems to want to be. But in a work of fiction it's unsatisfying.
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
2nd time reading; great book; tons of figurative language
So after I sort of metaphorically kicked Stiefvater's butt again with a negative review, I have to share another negative review with you. I've read some reviews where the question is asked, "Why did this stupid book get the National Book Award?" and to me the answer was easy.

If you look at the year it was published, the fact the setting is in California, and you take into account the racial tensions that occurred at many high schools there during that time period, the love people fe
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
At first the book was misleading and boring because in the first chapter the author only talked about Nardo who is the main characters brother. I wanted to stop reading because the book didn't catch my attention but as I kept reading I noticed how I relate to Manny a lot. I saw how Manny dealt with his family problems, bullying, and being happy with himself and as a teenager myself I know this will help me. This book helped me realize that just because life is hard you shouldn't turn to anything ...more
Jul 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Martinez' story read to me like a series of vignettes. Each chapter added to the collective of a narrative. Yet, the chapters were used more to build a context of Manny's life, rather than develop concrete moments that follow a traditional trajectory of story telling. There did not seem to be those crucial decision making moments that would inevitably change the course of Manny's life. Instead, Manny seemed more like a lost kid stumbling into problems that he just as clumsy stumbles away from. A ...more
Aug 27, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
"Parrot in the Oven" by Victor Martinez is an emotional story that sets out to portray life in the Barrio. In the story, fourteen-year-old Manny Hernandez is struggling in life to become someone. As hard as he tries it's hard for him because he has to live with an alcoholic father, worried mother, annoying sister and his older brother who can't seem to get a job. In Manny's neighborhood you can't be a good kid like Manny. You have to be in a gang to be known.

Manny has to experience many stressf
Apr 17, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literature, ficcion
As posted in []:

I'm sorry but I really do not see what was special in Martinez' *Parrot in the Oven* that reaped him some awards. I did not see anything special about the story. However, I do agree that Martinez does have a way with words. They were eye-catching and made you wonder.

*Parrot in the Oven* is divided into chapters that each one focuses on one particular topic. While there is a subtle storyline throughout, the overall picture i
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christian Correia
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Where do I start off about this book. It impacted me so much after reading it because of the message it gives at the end of the story. Throughout the story, it is the explaining the life of Manny and his connection with his family. The Hernandez family is the perfect description of a really messed up family. His dad is a drunk, his mom won't ever stop listening to him, his big sister has already been pregnant and she lost the baby, his big brother can't find a job, and they finally have a little ...more
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Parrot in the Oven by Victor Martinez is a harshly realistic book about the struggles of growing up in poverty in California. It follows the life of a fourteen year old Mexican boy, Manny, who lives in a housing project with his alcoholic dad, his mom, his teenage brother and sister and little sister. He does well in school, but faces many obstacles. His dad is unemployed and his mom works hard to even put food on the table. His brother gets into some trouble and his sister has a miscarriage aft ...more
Oct 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
One of my graduate school professors thought that my students would really like this story, and that they would be able to connect to it as a result of the Latino main character. The teenage male protagonist is engaging, and this novel depicts his "coming of age" struggles (to which many of my students could connect).

Some of my Latino students did not like Parrot in the Oven, however, because they felt that it only told the "typical South of the Border story" in which immigrants cros
Linda Lipko
Oct 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
It is difficult to believe that this is a winner of the National Book Award and the Horn Book Fanfare Honor list.

Dealing with the very difficult subject of abuse, alcoholism, neglect, poverty and the hardship of the Mexican American culture is a lot of material to cover.

While the writing is good, the plot is missing. The storyline skips around like a rabbit jumping on hot pavement.

Fourteen year old Manuel has a story to tell. He is very weary of a mother who i
Lauren AKA randomreader
I had to read this for school, and I absolutely despise this book. It was a plotless mess that I don't quite understand why this book won an award. It doesn't have that quality that wowed me or made me think. It was quite cheesy and bland. The characters didn't have many layers, and the similes and writing were extremely juvenile and messy. Definitely wouldn't recommend this one, which is a shame. I am very sad that the highest I can this book is one star, and that's for it being diverse.
Drew Baldwin
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is a great book. It about the this boy who wants to be more then his father and brothers. His father is a drunk and gambles all there money away his brother can't keep a job. His mom is the strongest person in this book she keeps the family together and keep the house clean. The part I hated the most about this book was when he watch his father try to kill his mother. I strongly recommend this book to any one that like book about a kid and his dreams.
Bianca Ramirez
Oct 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book was kind of intersting.It as abaut Manny's (the main character) life. He wanted to be someone in life. His dad always told him that he was worth a penny. He wanted to prove his dad wrong. His dad had lost his job and he drank alot. Manny was from a mexican family and I am too.This book had things that I did not expected.The reading wasn't so hard you shoul check it out.
Dec 02, 2010 rated it liked it
I liked this book because it was interesting. I like it because it talks about a boy who has choices to make in his life by being a follower in which is by getting jumped in, in a gang or by not being a follower just him.
Karen Betancourt
Sep 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I think that people who like to read about people with Hispanic heritage and like reading about people going through tough times.
Ana Martin
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
It is focused on Manny’s life. He is not an immigrant, but his parent are. It is not easy for them because they are not treated the same as white people because they are Hispanic, and they also don’t have the same opportunities as white kids in the US. The book shows us that they don’t have the same opportunities when Manny’s mom wants to move Manny to the best school. The best school was were all of the rich kids went. Manny lets one of his teachers (Mr.Hart) know and he thinks that Manny is mo ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel is really interesting because it tells multiple stories in the novel, each chapter is like a new story. It really makes you think about your family and how strong the connection in a family can be after overcoming some rough patches in the family.
The main character Manny is always trying to keep his family together. His dad is a person who is constantly drunk. In the first four chapters, he is introducing his family. There have been so many things that have happened so far like Manny
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the Book, Parrot in the oven the main character Manny is a young boy who is raised by an alcoholic father and his mother. His father had lost his job so did his older brother. Manny’s family struggles with money so he would work with his uncle selling fruit outside. So far I like how the main character, Manny is hardworking knowing his family struggles and at least tries to help out even if the money he earns is not a lot. After Manny stopped working with his uncle, he and his older brother b ...more
Monica Lopez
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
There is two brothers, one is named bernardo, but they call him Nardo, and the other one is named Manny. A summer he had so many jobs, and he couldn’t stay with one only. He wanted a new Baseball glove. He and his brother worked in the chili fields. The migration police came and the migrants went crazy and started running so the police knew they were migrants, so started catching them. Manny’s dad goes to a bar a lot and it is called Rico’s Pool Hall. Manny also has an older sister and she has a ...more
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Class of 2015: Parrot in the Oven Mi Vida 1 5 Mar 25, 2014 08:03PM  

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Victor Martinez was born and raised in Fresno, California, the fourth in a family of twelve children. He attended California State University at Fresno and Stanford University, and has worked as a field laborer, welder, truck driver, firefighter, teacher, and office clerk.

His poems, short stories, and essays have appeared in journals and anthologies. Mr. Martinez was awarded the 1996 National Boo