A young Latino man grows up in a poor neighborhood in Tampa in this debut that follows him through his sophomore year of high school.
Marcos Rivas aches for a relationship with his mom, who does nothing to protect him from her racist, white, live-in boyfriend’s physical and verbal abuse. Marcos is keenly lonely despite the company of a tight band of ethnically diverse boys that includes his kind and smart best friend, Obie, a black boy, who shocks and worries Marcos when he decides to start delivering drugs to make money; they all feel the constant weight of poverty pressing upon them. Marcos’ authentic, thoughtful, empathic internal voice makes it evident from the start that he is stretched between two worlds: one in which any expression of emotions must be concealed and another in which he feels guilty for pranking his teachers, listens both to hip-hop and to the Smiths, and is afraid of dogs. When he’s recommended for a new class at school that identifies bright students who are underachieving, he falls hard for white, punk, tough Amy, a fellow classmate. Aceves infuses the narrative with insight about class, ethnicity, and the intricacies of power between teens and adults, the vitality of Marcos and his friends holding rapt both readers who recognize their world and those who don’t.
Heart-wrenching, funny, hopeful, and not-to-be-missed. (Fiction. 14-18)