Covering considerable ground—literally and figuratively—this short, lucid novel leaves readers plenty to ponder, including...


Tennis-whiz Floyd knows exactly what he’ll be when he grows up; Mike, a new, mysterious acquaintance, has other ideas.

Floyd’s white, affluent parents are passionate about tennis; the family business is building tennis courts in Sheffield, England. Unlike Floyd, his dad started late on the path to becoming a tennis pro only to have an injury permanently end his career. After spotting Floyd’s coach about to hit another child in training, his dad took over coaching Floyd himself. He’s a good coach and loving father, and Floyd is acutely sensitive to how invested both parents are in his career. When Floyd, age 5, won his first tournament, his parents rewarded him with a tropical fish. A decade of wins later, his collection takes up five tanks. Floyd’s puzzled by Mike, a strange boy who shows up occasionally. Only when Mike distracts him during a match does Floyd discover that only he can see Mike. Soon, with psychologist Dr. Pinner as guide, Floyd embarks on an urgent journey: to learn who Mike is, figure out what he wants, and realize that, when choosing our path through life, who we listen to matters. If the omniscient narrative voice, psychic distance, and a plot spanning years defy YA norms, what results has the enigmatic resonance of parable.

Covering considerable ground—literally and figuratively—this short, lucid novel leaves readers plenty to ponder, including its intriguing cover. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-28536-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: David Fickling/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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Eddie, a young Mexican-American scraping by in the mean streets of Fresno, California, counts four dead relatives and one dead friend in the opening, in-your-face lines of this new novel from Soto (Snapshots from the Wedding, p. 228, etc.). In bleak sentences of whispered beauty, Eddie tells how he dropped out of vocational college and is attempting to get by with odd jobs. His aunt and friends want him to avenge the recent murder of his cousin, but Eddie just wants to find a way out. Everything he tries turns soura stint doing yard work ends when his boss's truck is stolen on Eddie's watchand life is a daily battle for survival. This unrelenting portrait is unsparing in squalid details: The glue sniffers, gangs, bums, casual knifings, filth, and stench are in the forefront of a life without much hope``Laundry wept from the lines, the faded flags of poor, ignorant, unemployable people.'' Soto plays the tale straightthe only sign of a ``happy'' ending is in Eddie's joining the Navy. The result is a sort of Fresno Salaam Bombay without the pockets of humanity that gave the original its charm. A valuable tale, it's one that makes no concessions. (glossary) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-201333-4

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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