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Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  963 ratings  ·  217 reviews
The Hollywood where Sammy Santos lives is not one of glitz and glitter, but a barrio at the edge of a small New Mexico town. In the summer before his senior year, Sammy falls in love with the beautiful, independent, and intensely vulnerable Juliana. Sammy's chronicle of his senior year is both a love story and a litany of loss, the tale of his love not only for Juliana but ...more
Paperback, 360 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Rayo
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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  963 ratings  ·  217 reviews

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Kirstin Reay
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
This book made me feel things that tore me apart. Benjamin Alire Sáenz is slowly becoming my favourite author. The way he writes, the things he writes about are amazing. This book was sad but in a good way and I promise if you read this book it will not let you down. Read one of Benjamin's books because they are pure gold
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure I've ever given a book 5 stars before, but this one is remarkable. It is a coming of age story set in a New Mexican barrio ironically named Hollywood. It is 1968 and America is in an upheaval which is reflected in the narrator Sammy Santos' senior year experience. At times laugh out loud funny, at times wipe the tears away sad, but always tender, endearing, moving and insightful, this is one of the best YA books I've ever read, if not THE best. Saenz has created such authentic, symp ...more
Rebecca Burke
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Author Benjamin Alire Saenz should be in the pantheon of YA writers. He has won many awards for his writing, and after reading Sammie and Juliana in Hollywood, I believe they are deserving.

I adore this novel, especially for its powerfully drawn characters and fluent, often funny prose. The title characters are wonderful--bold and bigger than life, yet believable. And the plot is compelling and unpredictable, skirting many of the minefields of cliches. Picture an urban high school in the year 196
May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. I`m Mexican so I had no problem reading this book at all. I loved Sammy and all the characters in the story. His story was so real and you felt like you actually knew him. The writing was excellent and the plot was great. But I didn`t like how all these bad things kept happening to Sammy. And there really wasn`t a happy ending. Although he is very smart, he goes to a community college and takes care of his sister after his Dad dies. And he is the only one of his friends to sta ...more
Oct 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
There is no glossary in this book, no italics to show that it is a Spanish word. The reader must figure that out from themselves and use the context in order to translate it. I encourage readers to not just skip over the Spanish words, but to learn them (especially if you are pretty good at Spanish, you need to know the slang too, not just the formal talk. My friends who speak Spanish laugh at Spanish students "proper" Spanish). As for the look at how gay people were treated, I don't think many ...more
This was an incredible listen. Saenz has written a thought-provoking book that tells about the United States during the late 1960's through the eyes of a Mexican-American student. Sammy lives in Hollywood - not Hollywood, CA but Hollywood, NM, a barrio outside of Los Crues. Sammy's life is hard; he is a realist, but hopeful. This was not an easy read, but the story is very powerful.

I was 15 in 1969; Sammy and I did not have the same high school experiences. It is good to be reminded that my life
Anna Ledwin
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I actually finished this yesterday but was so shaken by the ending I couldn't even write a tiny review.
This book was poignant. So so so so SO sad. Every time you think things are okay, Saenz hits you with another awful event. But it's also hopeful-- not throughout the whole book by any means, but definitely at certain points. The ending was incredibly ambiguous and time seemed to kind of melt away, but I was okay with that. I think the most interesting thing about this book is that Saenz is clea
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-fiction
It's a YA novel about regret. Guilt, grief, shattered dreams and sadness too, but mostly regret, dealt with in the most poignant and heartrending fashion. A LOT happens, probably too much for one novel, but with characters as vivid and real as these, it's hard to file any serious complaints. Probably the only novel I've ever read that has a twist BEGINNING instead of a twist ENDING, with one of the biggest shocks I've ever read in a book coming in the first 50 pages. The voice is fantastic, with ...more
this book is from the same author who wrote Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

this book is about Sammy Santos who lives in Hollywood which is actually barrio in New Mexico. I enjoyed this book because I just love how Mr Sãenz writes. his characters feel so real and you can just feel the joy and the pain they go through. one of the downfalls about this book is that there is a lot of Spanish in this book which can make it a little confusing. I can read as little Spanish so
One of my favorite YA authors, but not my favorite book by him. Of course I loved Sammy, a very cool kid.
4.5 stars

This wasn't a flawless book. There were a few too many characters, making it hard to keep them in your head all the time. Also, parts of the dialogues were written in Spanish, without any translation to be found. I personally don't know a single word in Spanish, so I sometimes had a hard time following the conversations.

Nevertheless, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood is an absolutely beautiful book. Not only does it feature amazing writing, but the main characters are also very well-develo
Reminded me so much of the "outsiders". Maybe because both were set against the backdrop of Vietnam war. Alire broke me in this one. It seemed I was flipping through the personal diary of someone. Tragic. Maudlin. Sad. Alire killed me.
Alexander Petkovski
So beautiful!
Awww . . . Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, how do I talk about you. You surprised me on most every page. But let me break you down.

Great coming of age story.
Nice setting, the barrio and Vietnam war time period.
Great heartbreaking characters.
good pacing to the suprising end of the first part, don't want to spoil it, but something happens about 50 pages in that is so shocking I was left breathless.
Solid writing, very literary.
Doesn't hold the readers hand and doesn't pull it's punches. Seems

This is a classic Saenz novel. It has recurring metaphors. Angry kids. Friendships. Relationships. Humor. Sadness. And a lot of heart.

I wasn't drawn to the main character, Sammy Santos. I understood him and I felt for him, but I never grew to love him. The one character I adored was Gigi Carmona. She was feisty and honest and she had important things to say. She was the greatest person amongst the crowd.

Since this book is set in 1968-1969, the Vietnam war was a big part in the story. I th
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
Ugh, this book broke my heart a bit. It's very beautifully written and the characters are stunning, but it's thoroughly depressing. But the writing! Ah! I found myself highlighting this book a lot more than I usually do. Some of those quotes and images are going to really stick with me.

If you think it's a romance, it's certainly not. It's a gritty, realistic, and heart-felt coming of age story. My heart aches for Sammy Santos. It's slow, but more in a way that lets the story breathe. There's no
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. It's a great portrayal of a group of Hispanic teenagers living in a barrio in New Mexico in the 1960s. I found it so interesting to read about views on homophobia and treatment of gay people in that particular place and time. The writing is engaging, beautiful and heartbreaking. I had to fold down the corners on so many pages that contain quotes that I love. My only critique now that I've freshly put it down is that it would have been interesting to hear more about disc ...more
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-fiction
I don't really know what to say about this book. I really enjoyed it. Being the story of a small barrio in New Mexico, it was a lot different from most of what I've read of late. A lot of the story lines were sad, yet left you with hope. I think if I knew Spanish or had been near a computer I would have taken even more away from it, because there were bits of conversation throughout lost on me--but even so, I don't think I necessarily lost anything because of it.

Reading about close-knit families
Neill Smith
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Sammy is a member of the graduating class of 1969 from the high school in the poor barrio of Hollywood, New Mexico. He loses friends to family violence, racial violence, homophobic violence, the Viet Nam war, and the violence of being young and in high school. Sammy holds on to his family and his friends as best he can - whether it is good for him or not.
Peter Monn
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Hands down, absolutely one of the best books I have ever read! Every book that Alire Saenz writes is incredible, moving, diverse and welcoming as he invites the reader to be become one of the characters. I wasn't sure what to think when I started this but Sammy will forever linger with me and he is a character who has become a friend.
Sammy Santos is a boy coming on his senior year. He hasn't found himself yet, but he is sure of some things. He loves Juliana Ríos, he loves his father, and he loves his younger sister Elena. But when one event shakes his world, he finds himself facing the greatest loss he has ever faced, right next to the one of his mom. He finds new friends and discovers new parts of him that lay hidden under years of concealed sentiments. His school is strict and the time period is full of strange twists and ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've grown skeptical of "young adult fiction," which is typically cheesy or full of shallow shock-value. This book, however, is beautifully written and tells a story worth hearing.
Samantha Sifuentes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This coming of age story captures the essence of growing up as Mexican-American teenager in the 1960’s and conveys the reality of dealing with issues such as sex, violence, drugs, racism, discrimination, sexuality, religion and death. Sammy, an introverted and pensive teenager lives in the Hollywood barrio in New Mexico with his father and little sister. Before the start of his senior year, he falls in love with Juliana Rios. But before school starts, she is brutally murdered be her own father. ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
(FROM MY BLOG) Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a Mexican-American novelist, poet, and author of books for young children. He is best known to the general public as a writer of Young Adult fiction. I've read five of his books, and reviewed two of them on this blog. One of those I've read was marketed as adult fiction, and the other four as YA. I conclude that the publisher arbitrarily decides the category -- the author, at least Sáenz, doesn't sit down to write a "YA novel" or an "adult novel" in the sam ...more
Journey Bradham
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ayra Chang
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Emotional. Realistic verging on tragic. Relatable characters with equally relatable plotlines.
I'm seeing the trademark writings of Mr. Benjamne Alire Saenz.
And this book wasn't an exception.

People aren't always lucky. We wind up in bad situations, we end up making bad decisions and more often than not, we are just plain unfortunate. That's life.
You can choose to struggle or you can get along by just surviving. But even if you try very hard to leave your past behind, to head off to a better lif
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ugh, this book broke my heart a bit. It's very beautifully written and the characters are stunning, but it's thoroughly depressing. But the writing! Ah! I found myself highlighting this book a lot more than I usually do. Some of those quotes and images are going to really stick with me.

If you think it's a romance, it's certainly not. It's a gritty, realistic, and heart-felt coming of age story. My heart aches for Sammy Santos. It's slow, but more in a way that lets the story breathe. There's no
Arthur Joseph 🔑
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book...haunts me.
Sometimes I think about it, nearly three years after having read it, and still get chills. I smile and think of Sammy. I cry and think of all he lost-- of those around him and all the suffering he experienced in his life. This book is such a perfect look into human relationships and their ending that it can sometimes feel more real than any post-end of relationship pain I have ever felt. Sometimes endings are quick and cut like a knife. Sometimes they come with no warning.
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Hopeful Wanderers: The Kids from Hollywood 2 2 Oct 26, 2015 01:08AM  
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Benjamin Alire Sáenz (born 16 August 1954) is an award-winning American poet, novelist and writer of children's books.

He was born at Old Picacho, New Mexico, the fourth of seven children, and was raised on a small farm near Mesilla, New Mexico. He graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1972. That fall, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado where he received a B.A. degree in Humaniti

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