Write a 6-page critique (typed, double-spaced, 12-point font, normal margins) of Mares’ Life on the Other Border: Farmworkers and Food Justice in Vermont.
Book Review Guidelines for Mares Textbook
There are five parts to writing a critical review of a piece of literature:
purpose, focus, perspective;
summation of content;
coherence of analysis;
contributions to knowledge;
a personal assessment and/or opinion.
Step 1: Purpose, Focus, Perspective
For the Mares text, you must incorporate the Acknowledgements and the Introduction when addressing all three of the questions below.
In at least three and no more than four well-organized paragraphs answer the following questions:
Purpose: Why is the book being written? There are multiple reasons.
Focus: What major themes does the author propose to cover? What issues will be dealt with? Who or what is to be examined or studied? What is the time
frame? Where will it take place? How is the book organized? Why is the book organized into its chapters? (It is not necessary to have all of these questions
answered, nor do you have to follow the order given, but it is important to make sure all relevant information is included).
Perspective: Who is the author arguing for or against? There are multiple arguments.
Step 2: Summation of Content
Summarize the contents of the book in five concise paragraphs. Pay attention to how the chapters of the book provide important information that supports
what you think the author is arguing for or against. Take notes on each chapter’s themes and photographs, if any. Can you find meaningful examples which
support the author’s purpose, focus, and perspective above? Avoid re-telling the story. Write short summary statements that identify the themes and topics of
each chapter that convey the author’s purpose, focus, and perspective. Always connect the ideas presented in a chapter to the author’s intent. Provide
examples from the author’s writing and photographs that help you understand the major arguments being made. A useful summation of content succinctly
conveys the author’s organizational structure and presentation of ideas, relaying important thoughts that are central to the author’s argument. After taking
extensive notes based on the information above, you are prepared to write a brief summary of the information in five well-organized paragraphs. Remember:
avoid re-telling the story.
Step 3: Coherence of Analysis
Mares offers a concluding chapter. Address the conclusions she reaches in at least two and no more than three paragraphs. How do the parts relate to the
whole? Connect the five chapters to the entire textbook. Come to an assessment of the work by answering the following question: Given the purpose, focus,
and perspective, and understanding how the subject matter was presented, are the conclusions warranted? This is coherence of analysis.
Step 4: Contribution to Knowledge
This step is central to the review: relating the book to the course. In at least three paragraphs, address how the work helped you understand the historical
concepts introduced in class. How did the information assist you in appreciating the historical experience of Mexicans and Latin Americans? Assess the
work’s value in relationship to the content of the course and the concepts used to understand the Mexican and Latin American immigrant experience. Look at
the instructor’s presentation of the contemporary era in Unit 5. How does Mares’ text relate to what you learned in Unit 5 and any other previous Unit? How
does Mares’ text relate to what you learned from the Chavez text The Latino Threat. How do the books complement each other? Understand how the text
under review relays the subject matter via the course presentations and the course readings. Connect the sources of information together. Show you have
been engaged with the course over the semester and reflect on how the book brings what you have learned together.
Step 5: Personal Assessment
Now you are ready to conclude with your personal opinion. The previous sections dealt with the author on her terms, not yours. In a very concise paragraph,
address the following questions: What was positive and negative about reading the piece of literature? How valuable was it in your quest to gain knowledge?
Would you recommend the work to others?