Domingo Martinez lays bare his interior and exterior worlds as he struggles to make sense of the violent and the ugly, along with the beautiful and the loving. Partly a reflection on the culture of machismo and partly an exploration of the author's boyhood spent in his sister's hand-me-down clothes, this book delves into the enduring and complex bond between Martinez and his deeply flawed, but fiercely protective older brother. It features a cast of memorable characters, including his gun-hoarding, former farmhand Gramma and "The Mimi's," two of his older sisters who for a short, glorious time, manage to transform themselves from poor Latina adolescents into upper-class white girls.
Martinez delves into the complicated relationships between extended family and the inner conflicts that result when the desire to Americanize clashes with the inherent need to defend one’s manhood in an aggressive, archaic patriarchal farming culture. He provides a real glimpse into a society where children are traded like commerce, physical altercations routinely solve problems, drugs are rampant, sex is often crude, and people depend on the family witch doctor for advice. Charming, painful, and enlightening, it examines the traumas and pleasures of growing up in South Texas, and the often terrible consequences when two very different cultures collide on the banks of a dying river.