by Richard Bradford
Red Sky At Morning is the story of Josh Arnold's coming of age in a small New Mexican town. His family originates from the South in Mobile, Alabama where his father runs a shipyard. When his father joins the Navy in WW II, Josh and his mother go to stay in their summer home in Corazon Sagrado, New Mexico. While his mother shuns the locals for being coarse and unrefined, enclosing herself in the house to play bridge and get drunk, Josh makes friends with the servants, kids at school and a disreputable artist in town. He doesn't pay attention to all the cultural and racial boundaries his mother upholds. He learns Spanish and local customs, all of which rang true with me (my husband's family is from Mexico). I almost abandoned this book a third of the way through, because the bully at school spoke English with a Spanish accent that read like Speedy Gonzales from the Warner Brothers cartoon, and it was driving me crazy! Then I realized he was doing it to annoy everybody (it worked), and felt relieved that it wasn't ignorance or insult on the part of the author.
Red Sky At Morning is called a classic coming of age story, although I have to admit I never heard of it until it was mentioned on an NPR program about books one day. It is a very entertaining portrayal of a year in the life of a high school boy, who goes from being a cocky spoiled kid to a responsible, level-headed young man. His ribald banter with friends and subtle insults masked in politeness (to unwanted dinner guests) are just hilarious.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 253 pages, 1968