"Jose Venegas, the father at the center of Maria Venegas’s vividly evocative memoir, Bulletproof Vest, is an outlaw in the grand tradition. He is, in other words, a moving target — sometimes mythic, sometimes depressingly real.  It is a testament to Venegas's prose that we experience this not as sensationalistic fantasy but as a way of life.  Bulletproof Vest is full of richly described moments... [that seem] both real and like something out of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  It is in itself a kind of miracle that the outlaw should have fathered a daughter so capable of writing the long corrido that is this book."  New York Times Sunday Book Review  
"It's likely Bulletproof Vest will be taught in college classes for years to come, not just because of its brutal and heartfelt prose, but because of its technical brilliance. There are more than a thousand stories in this book, each one holding the others up and collapsing in on themselves.  It's a stunning achievement, and it proves, beautifully, what the memoir can be."   NPR Book Review 


"What makes Bulletproof Vest a stand-out piece of writing and a current favorite among critics is that it reads more like a novel than a standard memoir.  Like a multi-layered plot rife with conflict, love, life, death; a fugitive on the run, Mexican drug cartels, and assassins thrown in, Maria Venegas demonstrates her literary talent by seamlessly writing from the point of view of her father in one chapter, and as a scrappy, angry, young woman determined to succeed in another.  As the memoir progresses, both Jose and Maria are running -- or rather, gunning -- almost as one voice.  They take you in for a ride, and the only thing readers can do is fasten their seatbelts and hang on tight." Huffington Post  


"As Venegas gets to know her father, the reader's sympathy shifts along with hers.  Through vivid prose and psychological shading, Venegas turns blockbuster material into a novelistic portrait of a renegade who lived his life on the border "of what was fact and what was myth."  New Yorker


“By the age of 69, the life story of José Venegas read like the nearly forgotten lore of the Old West. Venegas had been shot at for cattle rustling, stabbed by the Mexican federales, ambushed and left for dead by bandits, nearly killed by a bucking bronco, kidnapped and ransomed by ruthless outlaws. Each time, he cheated death. Thanks, some said, to a guardian angel. Or perhaps, as others speculated, a pact with "the Other One." Whatever the source of his protection, José Venegas is the virtually indestructible center of the captivating narrative crafted by his daughter, Maria Venegas.  At a time when we are sorely divided over the question of who should be allowed to come into this country, more narratives like "Bulletproof Vest" are sorely needed. Talented authors like Venegas, a child of Reagan's "amnesty" in the 1980s, tell the unfolding story of the latest generation of newcomers.” San Francisco Chronicle  


“The slow path to Venegas's reconciliation with her father was not straight or without detours but what matters is the crystalline accuracy with which the route is described.  The scene in which she describes learning to shoot a gun with her father on New Year's Eve at her family's isolated ranch will redefine the idea of "shooting stars" for you in a way that only the clearest writing can."  —Library Journal (starred review) 


"Venegas’s memoir has a cinematic quality, with its panoramic descriptions of Mexican landscapes and pulse-racing action sequences. The soundtrack to her story is gunshots, folk music and screeching tyres.  This gripping account of bi-cultural identity and the dynamics between contrasting societies also zooms into family relationships and characters’ inner lives. Venegas handles her autobiographical material with a poet's ear for rhythm and a novelist’s eye for plot and character development."The Lady


"In this brave, imaginative memoir, Venegas contemplates borders between life and death, America and Mexico, fact and fiction, while shedding her own bulletproof vest - the defensiveness that made her “guarded against love."The Independent


"In her memoir, a ballad both thrilling and touching, Venegas artfully weaves her father's stories together with her own." Los Angeles Review of Books


"As Venegas portrays him in this stark, tender narrative, Jose is an extremely complicated man—longing for his children's love, beset by regrets and seared by brutality."Kirkus


"Spellbinding..."  —Elle


**** BBC Radio4's Midweek Podcast  -  July 9, 2014 ****
**** New Yorker -  PageTurner : books to watch out for in June ****

**** Kirkus : 9 books you'd recommend to anyone ****

*** L.A. Times Book to watch, Summer Books Preview 2014 ***
*** Ms. Represent  - Podcast w/ Charlene Sayo ***

**** Flavorwire list:  Gillian Flynn, Angelina Jolie, Maria Venegas, Quvenzhane Wallis ****