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Dark Dude

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  601 Ratings  ·  136 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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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  ·  review of another edition
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
Whitney (Brown Books & Green Tea)
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
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!
July Sandria
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
¿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  ·  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
Jul 21, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sometimes you need to step away from yourself to figure out who you are and what matters. Dark Dude explores that journey for one teen.

Rico is a young Latino boy growing up in 1960s Harlem. The problem is that he looks like a white boy, which leaves him torn in his identity since he's not white, but the Latinos don't count him as one of them either. When his struggles in school lead his parents to threaten military school, Rico makes a drastic decision to run away with his best friend who nearly
El Templo
"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
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
Bob Redmond
May 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
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
Ron Bajrami
Nov 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grade-8-ir-books
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
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
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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...