"What does it mean to be an American? And how does a person gain

(or fail to gain) that identity? Although Torch wrote the book 15 years

ago, the questions he poses are more important than ever."

--Miles Harvey, Editor, The Garcia Boy and BSB Founding Editor


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This book tells the story of a brilliant young writer whose life was cut short by tragedy. In 2011, the award-winning essayist Rafael Torch died from a rare form of cancer at age 36, just as his career was beginning to take off. Thanks to the work of students in the creative-writing program at DePaul University, his gripping memoir is now published for the first time.

The son of an undocumented Mexican immigrant, Torch struggled with addiction before becoming a teacher at a high school in a largely Latino community on Chicago’s Lower West Side. His unflinching memoir focuses on the murder of a star student at that school—a symbol of the overwhelming challenges sons and daughters of immigrants face as they attempt to find a place in the larger society. What does it mean to be an American? And how does a person gain (or fail to gain) that identity? Although Rafael Torch wrote The Garcia Boy 15 years ago, the questions he poses are more important than ever.

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