Study Guide

Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida Summary

By Victor Martinez

Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida Summary

Shmoopers, we'd like you to meet the Hernandez family. There's Manny, our main man, who's in high school and has some serious adventures ahead. And then there're his parents, Mom and Dad, who fight like there's no tomorrow about Dad not having a job. There are also Manny's siblings, Nardo (who hates to work) and Magda (who works pretty hard). Oh, and there's a wee one named Pedi.

Fair warning: Manny and his family go through some major drama. So fasten your seatbelts.

Things start off pretty calmly. Nardo and Manny pick some chili peppers one day because Manny wants to buy a new baseball glove. It's hot, but overall pretty drama-free, at least for Manny and his big bro.

But these calm waters quickly disappear. Dad is drunk at the pool hall and angry as can be when he gets home, plus Manny gets beaten up by his super mean neighbors. And then Dad gets angry again when Manny has an old teacher drive him home from school one day. All Manny wanted to do was look into transferring to the better high school across town, but Dad is upset all the same.

Things get really heated, though, when two gun-incidents go down. Yep, you read that right: we've got not just one, but two gun episodes in this tale:

Ammo Attack (1): So we already know that Dad has his priorities out of whack, but he takes it to a whole new level when he tries to shoot his wife. Oh yes, he comes home from the pool hall one day so mad that he pulls out the rifle and starts hunting Mom down. The whole debacle is basically the most horrifying thing ever, though at least Mom is okay in the long run. And Dad goes off to jail for a bit.

Ammo Attack (2): We're sad to say that reckless rifle activity runs in the family, because one day Manny gets a little gun-happy while babysitting his little sis, Pedi. And when he accidentally shoots the gun right in Pedi's direction, he's super lucky he doesn't hurt her or worse.

While everyone (thankfully) emerges physically unharmed from the gun incidents, there's still plenty of pain on the way for Manny's friends and siblings. When he joins this dude Lencho's boxing team as the equipment manager, Manny sees his pals take a pretty huge beating during the first match of the season. And then, on the home front, Magda ends up at the hospital after prematurely delivering a baby. No matter what happens, though, our main man acts like a good bud through and through.

The drama's not over yet, though, and after all this physical pain, Manny still has some social discomfort to deal with. Like how awkward it is when Nardo's boss forces his daughter to invite Manny to her party and then Manny is a total outcast when he attends the shindig. Or when Manny takes a ginormous beating just to become part of a gang…

Luckily, once he's part of the gang, Manny realizes that he actually just wants to be a nice guy. So instead of stealing lady's wallets or roughing them up, he decides to just mosey his way on home. And that's that—at least for now, the drama is down to zilch. Phew.