In a poor neighborhood in central Tampa, Fla., sophomore Marcos Rivas is more worried about avoiding his mother’s abusive, racist boyfriend than about getting good grades. But he also yearns to escape poverty and maybe even get a date with Amy, a classmate with blue-streaked hair and a no-nonsense attitude (“All my life I’ve seen how couples match, in skin or style, and then I get a crush on a white girl who listens to punk”). Aceves sets his first novel in a vividly described community plagued by the familiar demons of addiction, crime, and abuse, as well as rampant racism. Marcos’s narration springs to life as he struggles with complex problems. His best friend is dealing drugs, and his mother—who was 16 when she became pregnant—doesn’t really know how to take care of herself, much less him. Through new friends in Marcos’s after-school program, he realizes that he isn’t alone, an epiphany that permeates the balance of the novel. It’s a memorable, hard-hitting portrait of a teenager trying to shape his own destiny after being dealt a difficult hand. Ages 14–up. Agent: Louise Fury, Bent Agency. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/09/2017 Release date: 11/07/2017 Genre: Children's
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.