Review by: Dr. Karen Tanguma, MA. Bilingual Education, Texas A&M San Antonio, MS, Counseling and Guidance, Texas A&M San Antonio, BA, MA, English, Our Lady of the Lake, Phd, Organizational Leadership, Our Lady of the Lake University
The intriguing novel, “Strawberry Fields,” features the migrant journeys, experiences, and memories of Joaquin (attorney), as an adolescent farm worker from South Texas. Similar to the migrant stories of Tomas Rivera, Chuy Ramirez entwines different aspects of Mexican American migrant history with a variety of fictional elements in the telling of his story. For instance, the author attempts to unravel the mystery of the strawberry fields’ murder by meticulously building suspense in the novel with a series of short stories.
The jingle “Grandfather tree, grandfather tree, why don’t you tell your secrets to me” foreshadows the mystery behind the murder of Joaquin’s first intimate acquaintance (a blond migrant girl) and Joaquin’s upcoming self-reflective journey toward transformation into mainstream society and enlightenment about his own identity. Through a hero’s quests, Joaquin (attorney) accepts the challenge to depart from his familiar surroundings of the courtroom and revisit (comes to terms with) the trials and tribulations of his past.
The author, Chuy Ramirez, ignites Joaquin’s passion to revisit his past and embrace his own heritage through his childhood memories, while creatively featuring them independently throughout the novel’s chapters. The novel opens with Joaquin nostalgically reflecting on his past (unsolved murder) and upcoming vacation (road trip) to Michigan and Indiana. In its entirety, the novel reveals pivotal moments of Joaquin’s life in short stories, such as his first communion, his experiences salvaging and riding a tricycle, and his non chalaunt attitude (unresolved issues) toward burying his estranged father. In closing, the novel maintains suspense with the unsolved murder mystery. So, stay tune for a possible sequel!
Like Tomas Rivera, Chuy Ramirez uses his experiences (field laborer) and his talents to honor the cultural heritage of Mexican American migrants and the American Dream with “Strawberry Fields.”
The author of “Strawberry Fields” Chuy Ramirez grew up in the city of San Juan in South Texas and is presently an attorney in the RGV. He attended Pan American University in Edinburg Texas and the University Texas Law School in Austion, Texas. He practices law in San Juan, Texas at the J.Ramirez Law Firm.