cover image This Is Why They Hate Us

This Is Why They Hate Us

Aaron H. Aceves. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-53448-5-655

Aceves’s debut balances brash humor and fumbling first loves in an East L.A. narrative that places serious significance on mental health. Bisexual, Mexican American Enrique “Quique” Lunahas, 17, has been head over heels for one of his closest friends, Palestinian Saleem, also 17, for as long as they’ve known each other. But Saleem remains oblivious, so when he heads to New Jersey for part of the summer, Quique vows to get over him. His solution? With the help of his best friend, Afro-Latina Fabiola, find a new man. He has three prospects: white jock Tyler Montana, seemingly straight biracial (Black/white) Sigmund “Ziggy” Jackson, and Latinx-cued bad boy Manny Zuniga. But as the varying dynamics evolve and Quique’s feelings for Saleem deepen, Quique must also decide whether to come out to his family and Saleem, all while his suicidal ideation grows. Quique’s summer drags him through from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other as typical teenage romantic flings juxtapose with a far more serious internal arc. Jokes land and humorous banter abounds among the quirky, distinctively limned cast, but Aceves avoids a shallow flight from boy to boy, granting the romantic and sexual exploration by queer youth of color the gravitas it deserves. Ages 14–up. Agent: Tina Dubois, ICM Partners. (Aug.)