Three college-bound Latino teens navigate their ways through senior year in El Paso.
Born to white parents, Salvador was adopted at the age of 3 by a gay, Mexican-American man and embraced by his extended family. His closest friends are Sam, an extroverted girl with a drama-filled life, and Fito, a gay boy who for all intents and purposes is homeless. Sal tries to maintain a calm, controlled life, but when a student hurls the word “faggot” at him, he responds quickly with his fists. He starts to wonder if he’s inherited violent tendencies from his biological father, whom he never knew. In dialogue-rich prose, Sáenz explores Sal’s internal struggles with his churning emotions during a year of life-changing events: “all of a sudden I felt like I was living my life in a relay race and there was no one else to hand the baton to.” Journallike chapters of varying lengths are prefaced with spare titles—“WFTD = Comfort”; “Me. Alone. Not.” The well-constructed pacing of the novel, with its beautifully expansive prose punctuated by text messages between Sal and Sam, demonstrates the author’s talent for capturing the richness of relationships among family and friends.
The author of Printz Honor–winning Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (2012) offers another stellar, gentle look into the emotional lives of teens on the cusp of adulthood. (Fiction. 14-17)