When Dachshunds Ruled the Serengeti
Author: Michael Murphy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press May 2013
Blurb: Phillip and José, newly minted Ivy League roommates, couldn’t be more different. Phillip is an only child from a wealthy New York City family. José is the oldest of nine children of Mexican migrant workers. He has only known rural life in the Southern US—though he was born in California, his family moved from state to state, following the crops across the country.
Phillip comes to school with every electronic gadget known to man. José arrives with the clothes on his back, a paperback he pulled from the trash in a bus station, and a notebook and pencil. They both need to adapt to their new environment and, in the process, quickly become fond of each other despite their differences.
As their fondness grows into love, their world is turned upside down when they are charged with caring for José’s eight younger siblings. To Phillip, sharing José is not easy. To José, caring for his siblings is his most important responsibility, even more so than his education. If his relationship with Phillip is to survive, they have to bridge the gap between two very different worlds.
Review: If you’re like me, what made you think of buying this book was the title. Then the cover. Then the blurb. Even if you can’t judge a book by its cover, title and blurb, if you do…you will not be disappointed with this book and the price paid for picking it up.
We meet Jose on his first day of college and see through his eyes most of this story. Jose is special. I loved the view of the world from his eyes. One of pain, loss, hunger, poverty and all the things we take for granted in life. He saw behind the curtain, and showed us a hard reality with his struggle and determination to change his life and succeed at almost any cost.
Born and raised in extreme poverty Jose knows all about hunger and what you really need to survive. For him that is family and love. His heart’s desire is to provide for his brothers and sisters. To give them the chance, he is getting, to get an education and hopefully escape the migrant worker life of his parents. Not that he is ashamed of his parents. No, he is full of pride in who he is, and the work he has done in his life.
Then we meet Phillip. He has no concept of the kind of life that Jose has lived. He didn’t know that people in America could experience the kind of poverty where soap is a luxury item. But despite his inability to understand, Phillip is very good at observing. He sees Jose as so much more than just a latino on scholarship. He sees a man, a friend, and then a lover. I was impressed by Phillip’s desire and ability to look past the surface and see deeper into Jose’s story and person. I liked Phillip’s family, at first his father and then his mother. They showed how a man raised in riches can also be grounded and caring.
This book was moving, then cute, and satisfying. Then all of sudden it takes a turn. I was surprised and completely taken off guard with the last third of this story. Several times I had to put it down, but I had to see how the story resolved, so I picked it back up and kept reading. This story will keep you hanging until the last page. I enjoyed it, even when I was angry at Phillip for not seeing a bigger picture, and frustrated at Jose for not believing Phillip was worthy of his attention or faith.
The only thing I didn’t like was that the story felt incomplete. When those magic words “The End” popped up I let off a round of profanity and growled around the house for a day or two. I was so invested in these men and the life that was almost within their reach, that when it ended without ending, it left me torn between crying and screaming.
If I have to get down on my hands and knees and beg for another story about these men, I will. I need more, I have so many questions that need to be answered. I have a tremendous amount of love for Jose and Phillip and I know you will as well.
Reviewed by Beans
Posted on June 1, 2013, in Beans and tagged a haunting past, B List, Beans, College Student, Coming Out, coming-of-age, Drama, DSP, Family, family man, First Love, Friends to Lovers, Homeless, Ivy League, love triumphs over all, M/M, Mexican, Migrant Workers, Parenting Siblings, Poverty, romance. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.