In the barrio of Fresno, California, the Molina family is living out the Chicano version of the American Dream. Father William works on an assembly line while his wife, the well-bred beauty Rachel, stays at home to care for their three children--and to keep them off the streets. But when William is offered an opportunity to enter the ranks of the middle class, he quits his job, packs up the Ford Maverick, and transports the Molinas to a brand-new world: the small town of Medford, Oregon. So begins the dramatic transformation of youngest son and aspiring actor Joey, who assumes the role of a "vato loco" gang member in order to win the respect and fear of his "gringo" classmates. While Joey tries to make himself popular with tall tales of guns and glory, his father embarks on a bitter struggle to develop his career and combat age-old cultural stereotypes. How William's extraordinary efforts and deepening despair affect the lives of his loved ones is at the heart of this haunting and incandescent novel--one destined to become a classic in Chicano-American literature.