Manuel and the Madman

Publication Date: 


Half-Chicano and Half-Anglo,
Manuel Ryan Survives Seventh Grade

        Award-winning author Gerald Haslam moves in another direction in Manuel and the Madman, a young-adult novel written in collaboration with his wife, Janice. Set in modern Bakersfield, the story follows 12-year-old Manuel Ryan into junior high school after he moves in with his Latina grandmother. Manuel must deal with challenges that range from tension over his emerging sexuality to the increasing threat of gangs.

        He is also one of the few blonds at Our Lady of Guadalupe School, so he experiences some reverse discrimination but learns much from his classmates including Spanish (the book contains a glossary). Moreover, the neighborhood where Manuel lives is slowly integrating, and it offers him rich experiences with pals like Flaco Rojas, Tran Nguyen, Keeny Padilla, and David Avila, as well as with his first girlfriend, Linda Garcia.

        An aging neighbor, Mr. Samuelian — called "the madman" by Manuel's grandmother — becomes the boy's mentor, while two old vaqueros (and inveterate storytellers), Jefe and Ramon, teach the youngster pride in California's Latino past as well as its blended present. He learns to value his own mixed heritage, because the braiding of cultures is nothing new in the golden state.


Manuel and the Madman was published by Devil Mountain Books in 1999. Devil Mountain Books is no longer in business; but copies of Manuel and the Madman are available through Amazon [Click Here!]. Or, for wholesale bulk orders, please contact the Haslam Family at P.O.Box 969, Penngrove, CA, 94951, or by email [Click Here!].

The cover was drawn by Gerald Haslam's son Garth, and colored by family friend Martha Molinari!