Official Review: The Biography of Jose G. Ocampo - The Li...

Please use this sub-forum to discuss any non-fiction books such as autobiographies or political commentary books.
Forum rules
Authors and publishers are not able to post replies in the review topics.
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 910
Joined: 26 Jan 2015, 19:51
2019 Reading Goal: 100
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 106
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 68
2017 Reading Goal: 150
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 61
Favorite Book: Ready Player One
Currently Reading: The Banned Book about Love
Bookshelf Size: 1116
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Simple Man Simple Message by Mark Dobosz

Official Review: The Biography of Jose G. Ocampo - The Li...

Post by CataclysmicKnight »

[Following is an official review of "The Biography of Jose G. Ocampo - The Life Story of an Undocumented Worker in the Salinas Valley" by Robert Ocampo.]
Book Cover
3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review

I've always had issues with realizing just how lucky I am. Chairs might be uncomfortable, the internet is often laggy, and sometimes it's hard to balance the temperature in my room. But there's so much that I take for granted! I've never worked for a sharecropper an entire season and not earned a single penny, for example, and I'm happy to report that I've never had to pee out of a moving train!

The Biography of Jose G. Ocampo - The Life Story of an Undocumented Worker in the Salinas Valley (a title that doesn't include the accent mark over the "e" in "José" for some reason) details the life of author Robert Ocampo's father. José didn't have it easy in Mexico: only the rich were able to be educated, and he worked his butt off from the day he dropped out of third grade.

Eventually, José decided that things would never get better for him in Mexico. After buying the birth certificate of a dead boy, José takes off for the glory of America. But when he gets there, he's often forced to travel from state to state, chasing down work with no guarantee that he'll have a place to sleep or food to eat.

The Biography of Jose G. Ocampo - The Life Story of an Undocumented Worker in the Salinas Valley tells José's story from his childhood through his death. It's a touching, funny, sad, and eye-opening book. José is an incredibly hard worker with a relentless work ethic, but his naivete sometimes leads to humorous circumstances. My favorite story is about one of José's trips to the hospital before he knew about indoor toilets. He was at a loss for where to go to the bathroom, so he used a vase in the room. The smell built over days of use and the hospital staff couldn't find the source. It was so bad that they worried it was an outbreak of some new disease and quarantined the place where he worked!

The entire book is full of anecdotes, stories, and memories from José himself. Robert wrote that he often spoke with his father about his past, and eventually started recording the conversations. In a way, José created this book himself and Robert merely put it down on (digital) paper and created a cohesive story out of it. I appreciated that the book flows chronologically, so there was no confusion over when an event was taking place.

Unfortunately, the writing needed some work. I found over 40 grammatical errors, ranging from simple typos like using "can" instead of "cane" to more obvious things like "we ate beans 1111that were old." Many errors were issues with homophones, such as multiple uses of "daily bases" instead of "daily basis." There were also quite a few sentences that were written in Spanish, none of which were translated into English. I took a few years of Spanish in school so I knew some of it, but there were words and phrases that even Google Translate couldn't help with. This is a shame because there are some very poignant things written in Spanish, and readers who don't want to seek out translations will miss out on them! Also, while I liked that Spanish words and phrases were typically in quotation marks, it was funny to see words we often use in English like "tacos," "burritos," and "plaza" in quotation marks.

I really enjoyed The Biography of Jose G. Ocampo - The Life Story of an Undocumented Worker in the Salinas Valley, but the grammatical errors forced me to give it a score of 3 out of 4 stars. Anyone interested in the challenge of immigrating (illegally first and then legally later) into America, a man's struggle to make the future better for his family despite the odds being stacked against him, the power of determination and hard work, or honest, genuine biographies should enjoy the book despite its flaws.

The Biography of Jose G. Ocampo - The Life Story of an Undocumented Worker in the Salinas Valley
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Nothing is true, everything is permitted.

User avatar
Nisha Ward
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 2216
Joined: 04 Feb 2019, 15:00
2019 Reading Goal: 40
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 100
Favorite Author: Garth Nix
Favorite Book: A Murder is Announced
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 247
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Devoted Lyon by Alasdair Douglas-Hamilton
Reading Device: B0794RHPZD
fav_author_id: 4351

Post by Nisha Ward »

Hmm. This sounds quite inspirational but the language barrier would definitely be a problem with me. Still, it seems like a good read.
"...while a book has got to be worthwhile from the point of view of the reader it's got to be worthwhile from the point of view of the writer as well." - Terry Pratchett on The Last Continent and his writing.

User avatar
Posts: 242
Joined: 18 Aug 2019, 11:39
2019 Reading Goal: 25
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 316
Favorite Author: Jess Lederman
Favorite Book: David Copperfield
Currently Reading: Relentless
Bookshelf Size: 182
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Island Games by Caleb J. Boyer
fav_author_id: 164792

Post by LauraLeeWasHere »

Well, Sir Cataclysmic, it seems you have presented us with another outstanding book review. It's easy to pick up on your enthusiasm for the stories of Jose and his many struggles. You're right in saying that we take too much in our lives for granted. What I also find disappointing is how little interest the younger generations have in their own family history. That's why I'm glad Mr. Ocampo took the time to write down his father's experiences and you took the time to write down a great review. I hope they clean up the errors and the life experiences of Jose Ocampo will reach an even broader audience.

Thanks for the effort put into a wonderful review. You're the man!

Sincerely, LLR
And they sang a new song saying,
"You are worthy to take the book,
and to open its to seals,
for You were slain and have redeemed us to God,
by your blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and Nation." Rev. 5:9

User avatar
Posts: 992
Joined: 06 Oct 2016, 09:58
2019 Reading Goal: 90
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 92
Favorite Book: Wicked Saints
Currently Reading: the air between
Bookshelf Size: 251
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Burn Zones by Jorge P. Newbery

Post by Letora »

To drop out of third grade in order to work...that is a tough life. The errors would make me put the book down though. Great review!
"Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope." - Dr. Seuss

Post Reply

Return to “Non-Fiction Books”