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Dark Dude

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  641 ratings  ·  140 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
Hardcover, 439 pages
Published September 16th 2008 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published August 29th 2008)
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Showing 1-30
3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  641 ratings  ·  140 reviews

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Feb 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, children-ya
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
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Short Review: Dark Dude is something new-- something I wish had been one of many similar books when I was a child. Within its pages, Pulitzer Prize winner Hijuelos introduces a Cuban-American coming of age story that feels honest and relatable.Read more...

I’m no expert on young adult books. In fact, I gave my 15-year-old brother Invisible Man and The Fire Next Time for Christmas last year. They’re books that every young black man should have, but my choice actually reveals that I didn't know of
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
Rose Haertl
Mar 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Rico Fuentes is anything but a dark dude," his light skin and blonde hair separate him from the rest of his dark-skinned Cuban family. He is constantly beat up and bullied for being white" even though he is actually Cuban. High school is tough for him and dealing with his best friend, Jimmy, is even tougher. But when his older friend wins the lottery and decides to move to Wisconsin, Rico decides to escape his New York life and start a fresh, new one on a farm with his best friend Jimmy
Catherine  Mustread
Sep 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Catherine by: Las Comadres' Book Picks 2009 (August)
Shelves: teen, latino
Cubano teen Rico who looks "white" deals with prejudice in NYC & Wisconsin, and searches for his identity while living as a runaway in Wisconsin after his family decides to send him to a military school. Great hitchhiking roadtrip description and interesting observations about the differences between life in NYC and a farm in Wisconsin. Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Oscar Hijuelos writes a realistic novel about coming of age, life decisions, relationshi ...more
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dark dude is a very interesting book i believe that a lot of readers would find this novel very good. It’s remarkable the detail the author of this book puts into his descriptions of his surroundings he really does a great job of making you feel that you are really there. The book takes place in a modern new york city and gradually takes this young man who is not the most popular to wisconsin. Rico Fuentes was his name and he was born with light skin unlike everyone else in his neighborhood in ...more
Ethan Tran
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos

Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos focuses on the childhood of Rico Fuentes a Cuban-American growing up in the streets of Harlem, New York. Rico and his drug addict, friend Jimmy try to escape the struggles of New York City. I personally enjoyed this book because it had strong plot and character development. One element of literature that was effective was the characterization. In one chapter Jimmy gave advice to Rico not do drugs because he cared for him too much to let him
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Me gustó mucho el libro, en general es una historia atraparte, aunque debo confesar que al principio no parece tan prometedora. Con el correr de las paginas te vuelves adicto a la historia que va tomando un gran ritmo y eso es maravilloso. El personaje principal, Rico, hace que simpatices con él muy fácilmente al igual que con su grupo de amigos, en especial Gilberto y Jimmy. También simpaticé mucho con el padre de Rico, creo que es fácil identificarse allí, con una relación padre-hijo tan bella ...more
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oscar Hijuelos did an amazing job of writing this book. It has amazing characters and had an amazing meaning (that I will let others figure out after reading the book) The book is beautiful and focuses on finding oneself amongst people that don’t accept you into their group. Rico is a Cubano that is very white and is not accepted in the Cubano community but is not accepted in the American community because he is full Cubano. After running away and being in Wisconsin for a year, he realizes he ne ...more
Will Paglia
Jun 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Dark dude gives us an insight into the life a white, blonde haired boy named Rico from Harlem. Drugs and violence inspire him to leave from his hood and travel to Wisconsin with his close friend Roberto. Over the course of the story Rico learns that wherever he travels he cannot escape who he is. This coming of age novel is good for young adult readers. I would recommend it for anyone from 14-25.
Nov 06, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a pretty interesting book, following the trials and tribulations of a Cuban-American teenager’s journey from New York to Wisconsin after running away from home. The experiences and evolution of the character - and the friends he surrounds himself with - allowed for your mind to ponder on the path of really finding yourself.
The story was a little scattered for my taste, but it was well-written and I enjoyed it.
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Identity is tough to figure out. There's this tension of honoring where you came from while trying to forge your own person simultaneously. It's messy and imperfect, just like we all are, but it's important and life giving when you finally own who you are and all you are capable of being. Thank you, Mr. Hijuelos, for reminding us of the importance of owning where we came from while recognizing who we are!
Cindy Du
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Over the course of the story, there is plenty of character development (and not just for the protagonist Rico). I liked the book due to it having a perfect mix of relatable characters, humor, and plot twists that I was looking for in a YA coming-of-age novel. Oscar Hijuelos's writing style really got my attention from the beginning to the end, and the plot is not a typical overwritten prompt that is seen over and over again. Overall, I would recommend this book.
July Sandria
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
¿what would you do if you're friend is a heroine addict and you're a punching bag in school? This was the situation that Rico was in. Rico is planning to escape Harlem and go to Wisconsin with his friend jimmy. But the trip is long and hard. Rico goes to his friends Gilberto house who was a big brother to him but won the lottery and went to study in Wisconsin. When Rico gets to Wisconsin he misses his family and Rico is feeling lonely so Gilberto helps Rico to get a job at a gas station as a cas ...more
Kendy Francois
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 06, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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
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
Cana Rensberger
Jan 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Maria Aenlle
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Dana Berglund
Aug 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: youngadult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Travis Mccluskey
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
May 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Breanna Fitzpatrick
Sep 12, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The novel dark dude by Oscar Hijuelos is very interesting. Rico a 17 year old cuban and Gilberto a 23 year old cuban lived in harlem New York with their mothers, they are not related but Rico thinks of Gilberto as an older brother. Gilberto won the lottery and decided to go to college in Wisconsin. Gilberto lives in a farm with his college friends and his girlfriend Wendy. Rico had some problem in NYC.; he does drugs, doesn’t listen to his mom nor his dad, and ran away. Rico ran away with Jimmy ...more
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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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