Literary history is a history of reading. What happens during the act of reading is the subject of the branch of literary scholarship known as reader response theory. Does the text guide the reader? Does the reader operate independently of the text? Questions like these shape the approach of the essays in this book edited by a scholar known for his groundbreaking work in using reader response theory as a window into Chicana and Chicano literature.
Manuel M. Martin-Rodriguez has overseen several research projects aimed at documenting Chicana and Chicano reading practices and experiences. Here he gathers diverse and passionate accounts of reading drawn from that research. Books for many served as refuges from the sorrows of a childhood marked by violence or parental abandonment. And many of the contributors salute the roles of teachers in introducing poetry and stories into their lives.