cover image Barely Missing Everything

Barely Missing Everything

Matt Mendez. Atheneum/Dlouhy, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5344-0445-8

This searing portrait of two Mexican-American families conveys the experiences of a group that is underrepresented in YA fiction. Juan, a high school senior living in El Paso, knows that his only hope for a future is basketball; when he sprains his ankle running from the police at a party, he worries that he’s lost everything, particularly after spending the night in prison. But his coach offers him one last shot: rehab the ankle, pass a big algebra test, and he’ll invite a college scout to see Juan play. Juan’s best friend, JD, has his own problems: he discovers that his father is cheating, and when his mom throws his dad out, JD’s family implodes. And Juan’s mother, Fabi, the story’s third narrator, learns that she’s pregnant and can’t decide what to do. Juan doesn’t know who his father is, but when Fabi starts getting letters from an ex-boyfriend on death row, Juan becomes convinced that the writer is his dad. He and JD hatch a plan to visit, but past choices catch up with them, changing everything. Mendez brings Juan and his world to life with vivid, honest characters and events that shine a light on what it can mean to be Mexican-American and poor in America. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)