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An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  408 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Twelve stories about young people caught between their Puerto Rican heritage and their American surroundings.
Published December 1st 1996 by Puffin (first published March 1st 1995)
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3.52  · 
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 ·  408 ratings  ·  62 reviews

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Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
Judith Ortiz Cofer is probably the best-known Puerto Rican author of young adult literature, and the stories in An Island Like You frequently appear in high school readers although the book itself is no longer in print. Upon seeing the title, you might think you were holding in your hands a book set entirely in the Caribbean. But you would be mistaken, for most of the stories collected here take place in Paterson, New Jersey, a place the author depicts as a kind of urban island -- a "barrio" sep ...more
Matt Callahan
May 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
An Island Like You was a collection of short stories all with different plots. I found all of the stories to be very realistic and some of them very interesting and entertaining. All of the stories took place in either New Jersey or Puerto Rico which was very fitting to the plot because most of the stories dealt with Puerto Rican community's dealing with problems and learning valuable lessons during the stories. The setting really helped the events of the book because of this. The characters wer ...more
Ricardo Lazo
Oct 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
I thought that the short story "Catch The Moon" was awful. It did not have a very good ending. If a story has a terrible, then it pretty much is a terrible story overall because the ending is what is supposed to end the story, it reflects on the whole story. All that the ending was, was just Luis giving Naomi a hubcap. The story has no morals, no theme, no nothing. The only slight trace of a literary element this story has is symbolism (the hubcap), but what the hubcap symbolizes is very unclear ...more
Phil Jensen
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Judith Ortiz Cofer's characters won me over. I enjoyed hearing their expertly presented points of view. Cofer is particularly adept at capturing the obviously flawed but passionate opinions of teenagers, and their impulsive decision-making.

The structure of her short stories sometimes felt underdeveloped- as if she forgot to include a new idea partway through. There were several times, the most obvious being "Abuelita Invents the Zero," in which the first paragraph telegraphs the end of the stor
Emma Hoyer
I loved this collection of short stories. Typically, collections of short stories tend to be about various topics or people, with some overarching theme. With this and Parrot in the Oven, which is another Belpre winner, there are recurring characters. We get the chance, as readers, to have access to different perspectives of all sorts of characters. It’s a unique and wonderful experience, and it adds layer of dimension to each story. I’ve read too many short stories were a person’s name will be ...more
Sydney Wright
An island like you is 12 short stories that all have different plots. All of the plots were
pretty realistic and could be relatable for so many people. All of them, for the most part, had a common theme. The common theme was to be true to who you are and fight for what you believe, even if you are alone. The setting of the stories were in New Jersey and Puerto Rico. The setting fit well with the plot because it was Puerto Rican teenagers living their lives in America and learning valuable lesson
May 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of short stories about various Puerto Rican-American teenagers who live in the same tenement building in New Jersey. Their stories converge and diverge throughout the book, but each story stands alone. It is not necessary to read them all together. They're an easy read, and I would recommend them for use with reluctant freshmen readers, junior high, and maybe ESL 3. A lot of the stories are actually quite short and focus on a short period of time or just one event in the lif ...more
Nancy Luu
Oct 05, 2011 marked it as to-read
I really enjoyed the short story "Catch the Moon" I thought it was a good story because the author had really good descriptions of the character. The author included diologue that was good and some parts was in another language to show what was the character. I also enjoy it because of the different point of view of the character, from Luis thinking about Naomi when he first saw her to Luis father point of view and how he felt. The conflict was well described and i like how the character in the ...more
Jennifer Dines
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book made me feel so good! It is a collection of short stories narrated by different characters in the barrio of Paterson, New Jersey. Each character is quite different, and the voices are very authentic. As a teacher, I would definitely recommend this book to my middle school students or even select it as a class novel in the future because there is a character for everyone inside the pages of this short collection. There is a girl who has to live with her grandparents, a boy who l ...more
Kristin Aker Howell
Apr 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Cofer's related short stories of life in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in New Jersey are individually stellar. Each one is practically perfect. I enjoyed seeing characters recur through each other's eyes. Some are in first, some close third. There are many characters, however, and not one single thread that keeps a reader turning pages between stories. The final story would be cheesy in anyone else's hand, but in Cofer's, it worked. Themes: immigration, generations, sexuality, gender, violence, ar ...more
Sep 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teenreads
So think of this as "The Women of Brewster Place" with Latino teenagers. This time, the setting is "El Building." I don't mean to discount the book. The stories are rich and insightful, and the characters have voice. The author does a great job of capturing the chasm between parents and children from the younger point of view, and she gives due credit to young adults for being the astute observers of adults that they are.
Catherine Thomas
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great stories in this book that I am currently teaching to my 8th grade class (we're learning about conflict and adversity). I recommend reading the story "An Hour with Abuelo" - it highlights a great rift between the split-heritage of being a modern American teen and also Puerto Rican , while simultaneously discussing how the youth treat the elderly.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Overall the story was rather interesting. The book did a very good job at representing how the characters felt and at explaining how everyone has problems, even if they are big or small ones. Throughout the story though, you may get the sense to want to facepalm occasionally, but apart from that the some of the short stories are rather good.
"American History" is one of my favorite short stories, so I had high hopes for this collection. I enjoyed Cofer's writing, but the short stories in this collection were hit or miss for me.
Lit Log for An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio
By Judith Ortiz Cofer

It was a relief, a nice change, to read a book of short stories after reading novels. I liked how the stories stood by themselves, yet all intertwined and progressed through time. This leant a sense of continuity to the book. There also seemed to be a common thread running through all the characters. They all seemed to be wondering how they fit into the scheme of things and how to reconcile themselves with conflicting cul
Kate Johnson
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An Island Like You is both culture-specific and relatable. Any teen can relate to feeling invisible, being bullied, losing a parent, having a lack of direction, and being “different.” However, what all the teens have in common is the fact that they are Puerto Rican and living in the same neighborhood, or as they called it, barrio.

Many of the teens are first generation American. Their parents were born in Puerto Rico and their grandparents may even still live there, like Rita’s. Rita and Doris d
Thania Mena
Oct 05, 2011 rated it liked it
The Book " Catching the moon" was a book that I thought was not completely good but a book that i enjoyed. The book starts off with a Young teenger who comes out of juvy early with a condition of doing community service in his father junk yard. The reason I liked the book was because the character Luis was portayed as a bad child, but before his mothers death he was shown as a kid that did not take his mother for granted. When his mother died he was unable to cope his feeling or express them in ...more
William Garcia
I really liked the story "Catch The Moon" I thought that the story was really relatable to what many teenagers are going through. It shows how different people cope with sadness and a really common way to cope with sadness is to turn it into anger. Turning sadness into anger isnt a good way to cope because not only does it affect you but it affects the people abround you as well. I also liked how the brought Naomi into the story because it made luis realize that there are people that are going t ...more
An Island Like You is a collection of short stories. Each story is centered around life in the Barrio. 12 individual stories, 12 scenarios, 12 voices but one central in the barrio. Bad Influence is told by Rita, who is sent to spend the summer with her Grandparents in Puerto Rico after she was xaught dating against her parent's wishes. Rita and her friend Meli told their parents that they wer spending the night at each ithers houses when in fact they wer spending the night with Joe ...more
Rebecca Boliard
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
**1996 Pura Belpre Winner- Author**
So I am not going to lie, I came into this book with low expectations. After reading a very stereotypical illustrator winner for the Pura Belpre award, I was not expected much here. I have to eat my words. I really enjoyed this book of short stories. I felt that this book gave a twist that we as readers do not get to see very often. When each character has their own "story" and point of view. I recently read another book that took on this approach and I appreci
Feb 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: lationo-a
This novel is written in a personal favorite text structure of mine, a variety of narrators telling a common story. Cofer does just that with her collection of Puerto Rican-American teenagers sharing their stories about their neighborhood, cultural identity and how that fits together to create their individual identity. The setting of the novel comes alive as each individual discusses the importance, positive or negative, of the setting to their lives.

As a teacher I am constantly thinking about
angel grr
Oct 07, 2011 rated it liked it
The main character luis was having problems with his life, his mother had died and he and his father both had issues because of that. He had recently been released because of him being caught breaking and entering. His father owned a junk yard where there were piles of cars. He worked at his fathers junk yard cleaning and polishing the hubcaps. One day a customer came in that he recognized from the funeral home where they had burried his mother. He spent the entire night breaking his cerfew look ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Kira M for

Life in a Puerto Rican barrio has its ups and downs. The community is close-knit, but the money is scarce.

With bad influences in the forms of peers, pressure from boyfriends, and the loss of friends, things can get difficult. Each teen has their own way of dealing with things - and this is a book of their stories.

An eye-opening collection of short stories that doesn't put rose-colored glasses on the reality of at-risk teenagers. The stories are believable a
BCL Teen Librarians
Judith Ortiz Cofer's book is a compilation of stories told from the perspective of Puerto Rican-American teenagers living in a Barrio in Paterson, New Jersey. There's Yolanda, loathing her mother's new boyfriend, and Rita, forced to spend a summer in Puerto Rico that she thinks will be the worst she's ever had. Then there's Rick, who is rejected by the neighborhood after coming out, and Kenny's REALLY bad drug experience. The interconnected characters share similarities in background, but couldn ...more
Ivana Diaz
Oct 07, 2011 rated it liked it
I would recommend the short story "Catch the Moon." Throughout the whole story the author kept my hopes high to have accurate perdictions of the events that may have followed. The author used thorough description and dialogue to help us, readers, imagine the scenery. The hubcap deeply represents Luis because he becomes aware in his reflection of how much he has changed and sees the value of life with his modified ways. There is an internal conflict because he fails to notice to notice his wrong ...more
I really enjoyed this selection of short stories about teenagers struggling with their American identities and their Puerto Rican identities. Several of them find themselves subscribing to the normalized gender roles within their community, of tough boys and pretty girls. Others want something more than that, dream of leaving the barrio to pursue different lives. Characters like Doris, Arturo, and Yolanda were extremely compelling, as they learn lessons about themselves, and find the courage to ...more
Kathleen Le
I think the story "Catch the Moon" was one of the many great stories that I have read so far. It depicts the story and life of a troubled Puerto Rican teenager in the barrio. After he was released from juvie he had to do community service. His community service job was to work at his father's junkyard where he had to clean and polish the hubcaps. In this story, Judith Ortiz Cofer uses symbolism. For example, the hubcaps symbolize how the main character, Luis, has changed in nature from the begin ...more
Auburn Hemsley
Jul 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
A compilation of short stories about 12 Puerto Rican children growing up in "El Building" in Paterson, New Jersey. I liked the simple honesty and simple writing about the difficulties of these children; however, I had difficulty identifying with the stories of many of the characters since the short story format did not lend itself to character development. I can see this being a good read for students who do have difficulty getting into reading because of the short story format and simple text s ...more
Feb 10, 2013 rated it liked it
And interesting interconnected set of short stories that could do with some fleshing out. Some of the stories are so short that it almost felt like the author threw them in there because they were on her computer/file drawer and she felt like they should be published. But the language was very lyrical and the last story "White Balloons" ended on a lovely upbeat note that I really liked. I can see why this won the awards that it did and teens should enjoy reading the collection no matter what cul ...more
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Judith Ortiz Cofer (born in 1952) is a Puerto Rican author. Her work spans a range of literary genres including poetry, short stories, autobiography, essays, and young-adult fiction.

Judith Ortiz Cofer was born in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, on February 24, 1952. She moved to Paterson, New Jersey with her family in 1956. They often made back-and-forth trips between Paterson and Hormigueros. In 1967,