A heart-warming book, ‘Taco’ is about survival, about growing where you are planted, a book about realizing goals and dreams, about family and those you love.
"Almost every adult in the neighborhood had a Title. It was either Don or Doňa, Tío or Tía, Suegra or Fulano de Tal. Never understood the last one, but I hear Fulano is well known. At least the older people had titles …
… So we know who to respect. If they have a title, then they are
well respected. At least here on Wyckoff Street.
… Even though our neighborhood was considered by many to be a dangerous place, none of us felt that way. I guess that's because we knew everyone, and everyone knew us. And we all looked out for each other.
… Mami would know exactly where we were and what we did, each and every day. And she was very happy to let us know this.
"What were you doing on Fulton Street today?” she questioned. "Didn't I tell you no further than Court Street?" … "But Mami, how did you know?", I asked.
With a smirk she replied, "I have my spies."
I always wondered who her spies were. Was it Don Julio, who always brought us Spanish bread? Or was it Doňa Idalia, who made the best pasteles around? Or was it Doňa Rivera, who sold Limber de Leche, a frozen treat, from the front of her house?
Maybe it was Don Paco, who sold snow cones, which we called Piraguas, in the summer and who was always yelling at his son Papo.
Whomever it was, Mami had good spies; probably better than the FBI or the CIA."
Stories from the Barrio / Hispanic Heritage
Barnes & Noble
Plot: The story of a Puerto Rican boy growing up in 1970s Brooklyn is warm, vivid, and emotionally resonant. DeJesus crafts the narrative in short vignettes, leading to a collectively evocative, if episodic, reading experience.
Prose: DeJesus writes evenly, with candid details that capture the flavor of his protagonist's tight knit community.
Originally: Though thematically and structurally reminiscent of other works, DeJesus provides a distinctive child narrator and lively cultural references that create a memorable and highly personal story.
Character Development: The narration initially presents an unevenness of tone, which may cause some confusion among readers regarding the titular character's age. DeJesus develops multi-generational cast of characters over the course of the short chapters. The author conveys the joy of community, the agony of poverty, and the volatility of relationships with grace.
Date Submitted: August 08, 2018
Taco: A Brooklyn Tale is a young adult coming of age novel written by John E. DeJesus. Taco and his family moved to Brooklyn, New York, just before he began first grade. His real name was Juan Ortega, but Percy, a class clown, promptly named him Taco, and the name stuck. They lived in a brownstone on Wyckoff Street, with lots of other Puerto Rican families. The elders had titles; they were called Don or Dona, Tio or Tia, and while Taco thought of them as being royalty, Mami explained that the titles were used out of respect. The Dons and Donas seemed to be founts of wisdom and were always dressed as if for a special occasion. Taco’s abuela was known as Dona Maria. She insisted that Taco, his brother, Jose, and sister, Inez, call her Dona instead of abuela. She was slim and vivacious, and she loved to dance. Being called a grandmother made her uncomfortable, and indeed she didn’t seem to act like an abuela. One day, she had Taco take pictures as she climbed a tree and perched out on a tree limb.
John E. DeJesus’s young adult coming of age novel, Taco: A Brooklyn Tale, is one of those very rare novels that I just didn’t want to end. I loved hearing Taco’s stories about his life, his mom and siblings, and the world that was Wyckoff Street while he was growing up. I was especially moved by the passages about Don Paco and his son, Papo, who was Taco’s unofficial guardian, mentor and friend. The war-time setting of this novel lends a particularly poignant tone as we see the suffering of Papo who returned from the war with one leg missing and tormented by nightmares that would make him cry out in horror in his sleep. DeJesus beautifully paints the image of that city block as a cohesive and self-supporting village, such as was found back in that tropical homeland which still lived in the heart of each and every resident. Watching as the family and Papo ride the Puerto Rican Parade Float is one of the most moving passages I’ve read in some time. DeJesus includes a glossary of terms used in the book as well as an Author Q&A which is marvelous reading. In it, he discusses reader interest in a follow-up to Taco: A Brooklyn Tale, and I’m hoping he does decide to write one. This is one unforgettable coming of age tale and a sequel would be a treat indeed. Taco: A Brooklyn Tale is most highly recommended.
The book was excellent. I could not put it down. I read it several times.
The book was great. TACO made me laugh and smile.
TACO was hard to put down. Even more enjoyable the second time.
A yummy, yummy read. Made me wish there were more.
A surprising delight. I enjoyed it cover to cover. Wanted it to last longer.
A jewel. Attracted by the cover, enticed by the blurb, captivated by the story. TACO is a wondrous delight. I recommend it to all.
I grew up in Brooklyn and live in Chicago. I miss those old Brooklyn days. I started reading and finished it. My mom was Doňa Paloma and my mom had spies that looked out for us. Brought back good memories.
It’s a fun book to read. TACO brought me back to my childhood days. I definitely recommend it. Very enjoyable.
Exciting reading which brought me back in time to my youth in Brooklyn.
I enjoyed the misadventures of TACO.
Absolutely enjoyed the book. It was heart warming and nostalgic.
I really liked the book. I started reading it because my mother was and I saw it put smiles on her face. I found it to be very emotional.
I couldn't put it down once I started to read it. It made me feel very much a part of the neighborhood. All the characters are memorably weaved into an unforgettable story. Good little book to keep and share.
I loved this heartwarming book. A series of short stories told through the eyes of the innocent. I sat down with the intention of just reading a few pages, but did not close it until I was finished. I found myself wishing there was more. I look forward to more from this author.
I was busy reading your book, turned the page to continue and lo and behold it was the end. I wanted more!
A whimsical tale set in the urban jungle of Brooklyn, NY. Utterly delightful.
The author, John DeJesus, captures the essence of a young boy who wants to bring joy to his neighborhood by selling snow cones; even though his life is plagued with sadness and heartbreak.
I found myself flipping through page after page of your book. Strangely familiar, it brought back many of my own childhood memories of growing up. The unique chapter structure made it light and easy to read. Touching and funny it was a thoroughly enjoyable book that I would recommend to anyone young or young at heart.
If you grew up in El Barrio when you were a kid, this book will touch you. I was able to relate to Taco's stories. The book made me laugh but it was also sad. I could not put the book down. Hazzah! for Taco and all the people who have experienced one or many of his stories while they were kids too. This book is the one that will never sit in someone’s closet. Must share with friends. ; )
TACO tugs at your heartstrings.
I GIVE IT FIVE STARS!! I highly recommend this book. I read it and it brought me back to my childhood days when I was growing up. It has a combination of everything! Once I started reading it, I could not put the book down. This book is great for everyone of all ages! A+
I just finished Taco. I have to say I didn't see that coming. You made me cry. I loved it! Thought it was so creative to write it from a kids point of view; how they view situations. So different from when you grow up. A slice of a child's life growing up on Wyckoff Street.
I sooo enjoyed it!
When I sat down to read Taco, I had no idea that I would not put it down until I was done. The book is a series of stories about a young Puerto Rico boy growing up in Brooklyn. The story is set in the 1970's and is told with an endearing innocence. Taco took me on an emotional roller-coaster ride. One minute I was laughing. The next, I was angry or sad. I enjoyed that it was a quick read, but not quickly forgotten. Kudos to John E DeJesus, for telling such a compelling story, beautifully.
May Torres- Author of “The Enchanted Island”
John DeJesus' writing evokes the vibrant and zesty streets of his childhood. From the matriarchs of the family who were "Queens" to the bustling aroma of Bustelo coffee and games of stickball. His writing transports and celebrates the importance of family; share it with yours."
Steven Arvanites, Screenwriter, Director, Producer
Easy reading and hard to put down. The author has a way of not only putting you in the physical neighborhood and city but also emotionally - you become part of his family, all those respected, you find yourself respecting them and knowing why. You can feel Taco's conflicts and the pride when wisdom is spoken to him of his conflicts. I'd like to see some more "Taco" short stories with all his experiences and with those characters in this book."
Hola. He terminado de leer su libro Taco. Es un libro fabuloso, espectacular. La manera en que describe usted las experiencias de Taco y de su familia es tan real que me hizo viajar en mi imaginación y regresar a aquellos años de mi niñez en mi Puerto Rico. ¡Lo terminé en mi tiempo libre en casa y en mi trabajo en dos días y me quede con deseos de leer mas! Lo voy a pasar a mis hijas para que lo lean pues les va a encantar.
I received this book directly from the author John DeJesus, whom I never knew before, and decided to read it during a recent road trip. Let me tell you reading it was addictive. I tried to put it down for periods of time, since I recently had eye surgery and did not want to overdo it, but I was not able to stay away for long and stopped only when my eyes became tired.
‘Taco’ is the title of this book and it is autobiographical since the author recounts small snippets of his youth growing up Puerto Rican in Brooklyn. It is easy reading that will bring a smile to your face. The author writes with warmth and candor and relates tales of the people he knew, his friends, and his family. A heart-warming book, ‘Taco’ is about survival, about growing where you are planted, a book about realizing goals and dreams, about family and those you love. It is easy reading and excellent writing…
Ivonne Figueroa, Editor of “El Boriqua”
FANTASTIC! This book was wonderfully written. The author brings you into the characters and life on the street with unsurpassed imagery and artful language. You know these people, you share all of their emotions. You're on the street with Taco and his "family" --a wide range of characters who surround the kids to protect and love them. An amazing read!
Tom Sims - Author of “Repo Elf”
Book Excellence Awards Finalist!