Life for a girl trying to make ends meet after high school becomes complicated when her ex-boyfriend, a gang member, re-emerges in her life.
Grace works concessions in a Miami movie theater owned by a former gang member gone straight, and she volunteers at a Head Start pursuing her dream of working in early childhood education. When her ex Mateo shows up as the theater security guard, done with the gang that was the reason for their breakup, the two immediately feel the heat again. Grace is worried about her younger brother, Alex, who seems to be getting involved in the Locos. Grace asks Mateo to try to protect Alex and get him out of the gang. While pursuing a career as a paramedic, Mateo agrees and is unusually adept at knowing when to intervene. Diversity abounds. In addition to Latino Mateo, biracial Grace has Latina heritage on her mother’s side (her dad is white), and most of her friends and workmates are brown; savagely feminist Feenix is a special treat. Van Diepen knows her audience. There’s much excitement around attending a Pitbull concert with Nayer and Mohombi opening. The cute day care kids balance the boozy after-work parties, casual cursing, and underlying lust, just as the poetry creates a tonal counterpoint to the gang plotline.
It’s fast-paced, telenovela-style drama with dance parties, poetry slams, fights, blackmail, and life-threatening peril. (Fiction. 14-18)