A middle-grade novel that chronicles the problems a boy and his friend encounter after finding an abandoned baby.
Thirteen-year-old Lionel Perez and his best friend, Anisa Torres, live in Brooklyn. One day, while playfully trespassing in a nearby construction site, the pair discover an abandoned baby in a Porta-Potty. The resulting uproar leads Lionel’s worried mother to force him to take daily piano lessons over the summer from their neighbor, Miss D. However, despite his mother’s precautions, Lionel becomes involved with some neighborhood boys who sell drugs. Though he knows this is a bad idea, Lionel feels it’s the only way he can provide for the baby, whom he plans to kidnap and care for. While Lionel’s far-fetched plans are obviously doomed to fail, readers may wonder at the level of naïveté he exhibits in forming them in the first place. The real challenge comes, though, when Lionel discovers the baby’s mother and must make the hard decision whether to tell or keep this knowledge a secret. Vigilante’s second novel (The Trouble with Half a Moon, 2011) is a quiet story with pacing that sometimes lags and characters whose decisions may leave readers confused. However, its vibrant setting and three-dimensional cast may entice readers who can suspend their disbelief and excuse the many random occurrences.
Overall, a fairly appealing tale of urban friendship. (Fiction. 10-14)