Review: The House of Order: Stories


The House of Order: Stories
by John Paul Jaramillo

This is a very personal collection of short stories and none of them left me with a feeling of hope. It is a stark picture into one Latino family living in poverty amidst the concrete and weeds, the alcohol and abuse, and then of course there are the rabbits (ok I had to mention rabbits because I have a soft spot in my heart for bunnies). “Esta las historias de la familia” within the pages of John Paul Jaramillo’s “The House Order” will leave you sad, despondent and wanting to rescue this grown child and his own family, from falling into the same footsteps his alcoholic father did.

The collection begins with Manito and his Uncle Neto sitting out back, amongst the weeds and urban decay of a neighborhood behind the family room with the backdrop of a failing steel mill. The thread that binds these as more than just a collection but a well segued group of tales leading you through Manito’s, the protagonist, own journey to discover the truth of their “historia”. Each title binds the symbolism within each story. After Uncle Neto finishes telling another Ortez family tale the title becomes relevant.

It is hard to label this an actual collection of short stories, it is more like a condensed taste of reality within the 108 pages and a beautiful cover. It is not a quick read, a few hours, but I took my time mainly because the stories were so dense with meaning and realism. The Ortez’s are a characterization of many “familias”in American today. This is not a story for Latino’s and just Latino’s, the machismo, the abuse, the abandoning of children and alcoholism is a problem with many impoverished in this country. In today’s struggling economy the situations that crop up over and over within the Ortez “familia” are mirrored within the stories. There is a choice Manito must make, with where this leads him, to break free “de liberarse” of the apron strings that drag him out the door? Or to let himself go down the path with her. What will it be?

Go grab your copy today, the book is beautiful, dark and though I will not be reading it again, I will be sharing it with many of my friends who can emotionally handle reading this.I was left depressed and brooding.

Who would I recommend it too? People that love well crafted, deep literary fiction. Who like art in their words when presented with a stark reality and sociologists! Yep, this would be a GREAT book to include in a sociological study. I already am planning on handing it over to my friend up at the university who is doing a study on the third generation Mexican Americans and the Machismo factor (or something to that effect).

My rating scale is as such:

5 stars for the cover design: The cover made no sense to me at first, then I got it. This is raw, exposed and rough. It is not pretty, painted and standing on a corner with a pill box hat. Deal with it move on and screw you I like my longs black. The cover is amazing.

4 Stars for the writing: Exquisite. There are a few problems I found in places where the flow was just to in erupted with the use of Spanish everywhere. Not just when characters are speaking but continually used in the monologue with Manito. I used it in the review to prove a point, it kind of derailed me a bit.

3 stars for character development: There were a lot to deal with. I think there could have been a bit tightening up of some of the development and less focus on others. It was almost like a rabbit hutch. To many, and I did re-read a bit. This could have been because I was derailed by the language usage.

3 stars for the “like” scale. I like it. I did not really like it and I did not love it. I have had enough despair and seen enough ugliness and depravity in my life I can handle crying in a book, but this book had me very sad and depressed. I was already struggling through some things while I read it but I doubt even if I was so happy I was about to burst would I give it higher than three on the Kriss LIKE scale! But you may definitely love it, I know many did.

In all it has a rating of 3.75 starsView all my reviews