First Place - Patricia Santana
The Motorcycle Ride on the Sea of Tranquility
Ride on the Sea of Tranquility succeeds on many levels, one of
which is a captivating portrayal of Mexican American family life.
Set in 1969 when young Chicanos were returning from
Vietnam, the novel is challenging, warm, provocative, often
humorous, always engaging.
The heart of the novel explores the relationship between Yoli, the younger sister, and Chuy, her brother who has returned from Vietnam. The novel traces Yoliís rites of passage through a series of initiations that lead her from the innocence of childhood into a deeper, more serious understanding of her complex world. In the end she becomes the curandera, the healer, the mother who can rescue Chuy from his tormented, post-Nam mental breakdown.
a deeper scope, the novel explores a societal loss of innocence.
Chuy loses his innocence and soul in the killing fields; he
lives in horror until he can find a way to return to the circle of
the family. The
family, too, loses some of its innocence as Yoliís brothers and
sisters move away from the center, seeking
paths in a wider world.
La familia, the center of Mexicano culture also changes as
its traditional values are questioned.
observant, first person narration allows the reader a view into
wonderful family scenes which are a major part of the novel.
Few Chicana/o novels have attempted a presentation of so
many varied characters. In
penetrating sketches we get to know Yoliís parents, brothers and
sisters, barrio characters, and school friends.
Revelation of character in these scenes lends strength and
reality to the novel.
Motorcycle Ride on the Sea of Tranquility is also about freedom, the freedom Yoli seeks for herself and for Chuy. A novel should also change and broaden the perspective of the reader. Yoliís story does that. It carries us into a deeper understanding and acceptance of the changes set in motion within the Chicano community of the 1960ís, and the ripples those changes created.î
- Rudolfo Anaya (25th Anniversary Prize Judge)