When you have a strong-willed mom, a dad with a drinking problem, and a handful of feisty siblings, you've got yourself a recipe for some family drama. And for the Hernandez family in Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida, that's just what they're in for.
Most of the time, Manny and his family members are butting heads; they just can't seem to get along. Sometimes it's one of them almost shooting the other (which happens not once, but twice, folks), and other times it's just little tiffs about clothes or going to work. In other words, the tender moments sure can be hard to come by for this family. Bummer.
Family is the worst. In Parrot in the Oven, all Manny's family does is cause trouble, so it has an entirely negative impact on his life.
Family is rough, but still worth it. In Parrot in the Oven, Manny's family has its fair share of problems but they still have a positive impact on Manny in the long run.
Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida dishes out a sad truth: Racial stereotypes are alive and well—and most of the time, these stereotypes are super mean and hurtful. Manny's family is Mexican and he grows up in a California town where people from a variety of races live. We wish we could say that everyone coexists peacefully, holding hands under a rainbow and singing all day long, but that's simply not the case. Instead, we see negative assumptions about race cropping up in this book, adding to the heap of things Manny has to navigate and sort through as he grows up.
For Manny, race is central and when it comes to figuring out his identity, Manny knows that both his real cultural heritage and the nasty stereotypes others believe in both have a huge impact on him.
Manny's race doesn't really matter. Sure, he might encounter stereotypes about Mexicans all the time, but they don't impact his sense of self one bit.
School isn't really the center of Manny's world in Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida; instead, it's kind of a nuisance. So that means he spends a lot of his school time thinking about things like hot teachers and baseball teams. At the same time, though, getting an education means a lot to Manny, and especially to his mom—she knows that getting a good education could make a huge difference in her son's life.
Sure, it's not easy to find teachers who really care about their students in this town, and it's no cakewalk to get Manny revved up for school. But in the long run, this kid gets on Team Mom and figures that getting a good education might just be the way to go. Pro tip: It certainly won't hurt.
School stinks, and since Manny doesn't really learn anything in school, it's a total waste of time.
School is a place where Manny learns tons of valuable life lessons, and this makes the whole experience worth it.
There's tons of stuff to be afraid of in this book: dads with guns, punch-throwing bullies, enormous boxing opponents, talking to girls… the list goes on. Sometimes, it seems like Manny experiences fear at every turn—we'd even go so far as to say that he can be quite the scaredy cat.
He gives us a sneak peak into his deepest darkest feelings in Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida, and dude's seriously a bundle of nerves. On the flip side, though, he also pushes through his fear on more than one occasion. His fear, then, also shows us how tough he's capable of being.
In Parrot in the Oven, most of the time fear provides a good kick in the butt, so it's ultimately a good thing.
In Parrot in the Oven, most of the time fear makes characters stay put instead of moving forward; it's a major barrier to success.
For the Hernandez family in Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida, poverty doesn't mean not having a home, nor does it mean completely going without food. But don't start thinking that struggling with poverty is a cakewalk for them either. Because they don't have much money, these folks need to be extra resourceful, wearing hand-me-downs and getting creative to make ends meet. Dealing with poverty can be seriously tough on family relationships in this book, especially when it comes to who rolls up their sleeves and works… and who doesn't.
Manny has to face his family's poverty in oodles of different ways, and sometimes it keeps this guy from moving forward.
Manny's family might not be rich, but this doesn't impact his ability to move forward in life one bit.
We can split the characters in Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida into two categories: the hard workers and the slackers. On the hard working side, we've got folks like Manny, Mom, and Magda, who might not all like their jobs, but persist in their work anyway. And then there are the lazier characters like Dad and Nardo, who'd rather sit on their bums all day, and whose slacking puts some serious pressure on the rest of the family at times.
On the plus side, even Dad and Nardo have moments when they figure out how to persevere. And sometimes this means a major transformation from Slacker Extraordinaire to Employee of the Year.
Hard work pays off—Manny perseveres through tons of different circumstances, and in the end he comes out on top.
Hard work is the pits—no matter how hard Manny tries, there are some things he just can't change, which means perseverance doesn't pay off in the end.
Did you flinch when Dad is hunting for Mom with his rifle? Was your stomach in knots when the neighbors bullied Manny? Did you cringe when the shot went off in Pedi's direction? Yep, Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida is chockfull of violent scenes. Whether Manny is at home, in school, or out on the town, there's almost always some bully or rifle that might pop up and cause serious damage. Plus, Manny himself can be violent, too, even if it's not totally on purpose. Consider yourselves warned: This book punches readers in the gut sometimes.
In Parrot in the Oven, violence is always super destructive, so it's never a good thing. Never ever.
In Parrot in the Oven, sometimes violence can actually be (kind of) a good thing because it can inspire people to do better.
Community can be hard to come by in Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida, and this is a pretty tough fact for Manny to face. He has a bunch of siblings but no real sense of belonging, so he's looking for a place to fit in—and it isn't always easy to find. Other characters also have tough times finding community, like Mom and Dad who are wary of all the gossip around town, but Manny's the one who really quests for a place to belong throughout the book. Surprisingly, as the book ends, we think he's finally found the community he needs most: himself. Go figure.
Feeling accepted is key, and in this book, it's most important to every character that they feel accepted as part of a community.
Privacy takes the cake, and in this book, community is great and all, but not at the expense of personal space.